Monthly Archives: March 2011

Update on Early Spring Plantings…

We had a lot of rain this week as well as light frost.  The lettuce/spinach has made it through pretty well; only a couple of them appear to have not made it throught the transplanting. And mind you I didn’t harden them off – I just went and planted the seedlings straight from inside to outside.

Nothing else has sprouted from initial plantings (potato, carrots, peas) as I suspected they would not.  Right now it is upto mother nature for the moisture and temperature.  We got the water, now we are waiting for the temps to rise so that the seeds will germinate.

I did notice, however, that I have some “volunteer” parsnips sprouting which must be left over from last year.  They resemble carrots but are white and taste much spicier.  My kids didn’t like them so I decided not to replant them this year – but SURPRISE!  looks like at least a couple have overwintered and will be waiting for me.  I like them and they are really easy to grow from seed; just thin them like I suggested for the carrots.

If you want to plant early spring vegetables later this week would be a great time to get them in the ground.  Weather is expected to be very nice.

Sidenote on irrigation:  I am mentioning I am leaving upto mother nature for both water and temps.  Where I live, houses usually have 2 types of water; potable water for the house and irrigation water for the yards which is controlled by the city/county.  During the winter months the irrigation water main is turned off.  So, right now there is no irrigation water available to water yards.  the only way to water would be to use the “house” water – which there are spigots, but the water is expensive.  Irrigation water will be available for use sometime in May if I remember correctly.  So, until then I will rely mostly on mother nature and a watering can if need be the case.

Update on my dormant spraying – Senske came out when there was an appropriate break in the weather and sprayed all of my trees and shrubs.  Again, a super deal at $40 for up to 5000 s.f.  He was in and out in under 30 minutes- the equipment: the long hose hooked upto a small tanker truck filled with the spray and they can spray super high into your tree limbs generously. Well worth the $40 to save my time (trip to purchase, purchase, mix, refill, pump up an air pressured 2 gallon sprayer)

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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


Material List for my Tomatoes

Over the past few years I have tried a few different strategies to stake my tomatoes.

1st year – nothing – I planted them in the ground and let them grow as is.  I have had friends ask “Is this okay?”.  Well, how do you think the farmers grow them in their big fields?  They’re not going to trellis and stake each plant!  It worked fine, they are just big plants and take a lot of room, not to mention that some tomatoes will rot if left in contact with ground too long.

2nd try- I purchased those cheapo cages at the hardware store.  They DON’T WORK!!! Don’t waste your money.  I bought the “upgraded/tougher” ones and they all crumbled under the weight of the plants.  I will save these cages though and try using them on my pepper plants this year.  My mother and I even used some extra tposts I had laying around and tied the tomatoes with string to the posts and that actually did okay, but it was still quite messy looking.

Last Summer – I used those stake set ups you see in my pictures from last week (which I am using this year for the peas).  I used one “staked row” in the middle of the row for the plants to grow up onto.  This set up worked okay, except the plants were still bushy and unsupported on one side. Also, you have to encourage the plants to grow on this type of trellising; no big deal.

This year  — MY PLAN — is to make a hedge row trellis system that I saw used in that square foot gardening book (see Resources tab).  You basically make 2 support systems on either side of the row and plant in between them.  The plants will then grow up onto each side of the trellises making a type of “hedge”like appearance.  I need to measure my row length to make sure I purchase enough stakes and fencing material

Materials needed:

  • 6 or so – 7′ to 8′ ft tall Tposts (I will be pounding these in about a foot down so the end result will be a 6ft or 7ft tall trellis).
  • Big Metal Mallot to pound in the posts
  • Sturdy Wire Clippers if I need to cut/trim fencing/panels
  • 2 panels of hog fencing OR a roll of fencing wire that has holes that are 5-7″ big (big enough for me to get my hand and a big tomato through and back into the house.  Hog Panels are a fencing material that is more sturdy than the wire roll with bigger holes throughout the majority of the panel and smaller, closer together holes near the bottom (so the hogs can’t escape underneath).  At the moment I am not sure what lengths the hog panels are sold in.

After I set this up, when it is time to plant the tomatoes, I will plant them in between the rows.  I know that I will have to encourage/train the tomato plants onto the wires and I should have some plastic tying material handy should I need it.  I am hoping that this method will create a wall of tomato plants that I can just reach into to harvest.  I expect to put in more labor to take them down too because I will have to cut or strip away the plant from the fencing after the season (late October);  I will reuse the fencing again for next year.  P.S. I am told that you can use the fabric netting too; but when I looked into this I decided I wanted to go with something reusable; I just don’t foresee the netting to be reusable-but way easier clean up — so you decide what works for you. NOTE: if you go with fabric netting you will need extra Tposts to straddle the tops on the vertical ones staked into the ground, zip tie them to one another so your netting has a proper frame.

Tomatoes are important to our family.  I harvest many and can/jar them for our use throughout the year.  There’s nothing that can compare to the sweet taste of home grown tomatoes (store purchased canned tomatoes taste awful to us now).  I also make and can sauce and spaghetti sauce (my neighbor makes and cans a great salsa).  We will get into the subject of canning later in the season.

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


Rain – Let’s talk about Sprays/Compost/Worms

The rain started late last night and is supposed to continue off and on for the rest of the week.  Let’s talk about a couple of other things:

Dormant Spray on Trees/Shrubs- A good idea is to have Dormant oil spray put on your trees and bushes.  A couple of weeks ago I called Senske to spray my trees and shrubs to kill off overwintering pests and whatnot.  Here in Idaho I’d recommend it as there seems to be so many bugs here.  Senske does it for $40 (upto 5000 sf) which is worth the time, materials and knowhow saved on my part and cheaper than replacing the trees/shrubs.  You want to do this sometime in Feb-March when temps are around 32F still and before buds break.  Mine has been postponed due to weather, but is still on the books to be done.  You still have time if you do it quickly. 

Composting – In my garden pictures, there is a black thing you can see.  That is my tumbling composter.  This is the second attempt at composting our family has done.  Our first attempt, literally went up in flames with my husband’s “help”.  You can pick this tumbling composter up at Costco for $100 – we did about a month ago.  It takes 1 adult and 1 tween to put together (2 hours).  This is CHEAP for a tumbling composter.  I could use 2.  Tumbling helps aerate/mix it better which allows for faster breakdown of materials.  We also purchased a countertop compost holder, which I’d recommend after using a bowl for a couple of months.  Starbucks also gives away huge bags of coffee grounds too.  Anyways, it’s on its way.  I’ll take some pictures later and post.  Usually it is recommended to place your composter in an easily accessible place so you’ll be motivated to use it.  I say that it is pretty unsightly and you should put it near where you will be using the end product – I think you either commit to it or you don’t.

Worms – Because I don’t have enough to do with my days my husband also ordered 1000 worms and signed me up for worm farming on top of it all.  He apparently did some research and discovered that they live well in the composter – I just hope they don’t mind the tumbling.  No only are these worms supposed to decompose things faster, make the compost richer with their casings, they will come in handy fishing this summer up at the cabin.  Our kids go through 1-2 containers of worms per day catching/releasing fish up a the lake.  I think if it all goes well, we’ll break even by the end of the season with our initial investment ($70) and start saving money next year!!!  What a great way for the kids to become interested in, stay interested in, and learn about composting by integrating the worm factor!  My kids are on top of it because they don’t want the worms to die (and neither does my husband).

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


You can still plant today-Rain coming this week

It’s very windy out, but if you can deal with it you can put in your early spring seeds in today still.  I’d recommend only planting potatoes, peas, onion sets.  You can also purchase and plant lettuce starts.   Anything that requires only 1/4 inch or sowing depth I’d wait until after the wind, unless your garden area is well sheltered from the wind.

The rain is supposed to start tomorrow and continue all week.  I am depending on the rain to water in my seeds to start the germination process.  I did not water yesterday – I just put them in the ground and covered them up waiting for mother nature to take over.

If you haven’t shopped for your seeds yet, you can wait until this storm passes and wait a few days after the rain to let the soil drain a bit and go ahead and plant.  Also, pick up a vegetable fertilizer (preferably organic or a time release one) to sprinkle in the rows of your garden.  I spread some over the existing perennials and newly planted items yesterday also.

I have  a few things that I’m still waiting to plant which I have already started indoors; broccoli and walla walla onions seedlings.  My onion seedlings are different from sets you’d buy in stores, which would look like onion bulbs.  Throughout this next week, I will post the veggies that I am preparing to plant on the next break in the weather.

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Posted by on March 20, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


First Planting of the season! (pics)

The rain has staved off for a few days and is supposed to come back sometime this weekend.  While the weather was holding today, I planted:

Potatoes — Dug a trench about 8-10 deep, mounding the dirt on either side of the row.  The potato seed is cut up into 1-2 inch pieces, each piece having 2 or more “eyes” on it.  I plant those chunks then an additional 4 inches deep in that trench.  The plan is to mound the dirt up around the plants as they grow.  This is also known as “hilling”.  So, when the plants grow 6-8 inches I will mound that dirt I left out on the sides into that trench so they are covered about half way.  This will encourage more potatoe growth.  I sprinkled a time release fertilizer in the dirt too and scratched it in.

Red Norland Potatoes to be planted

Carrots– Next to the potatoes I sprinkled some carrot seeds.  My neighbor told me that they take forever to germinate (upto 3 weeks) – so I will not be discouraged.  I will keep an eye out and be sure to thin them properly so that they will not become mangled upon each other; I want straight carrots.

Snap Peas — You see those stakes (t-posts) in my pictures?  Well that is where I planted my snap peas.  I hung some chicken wire on one side of the posts and fencing wire on the other half; I used what I have laying around.  I am not sure how tall they will grow; but I wanted to provide some support.  I planted 2 rows on either side of these staked areas.

Snap Peas planted on each side of the staked trellises (4 rows)

Lettuce, Arugula, Spinach — I had already started some of these indoors, so I just decided to plant the sprouts in the garden and just see how they fared.  I was going to also direct seed these, but then thought I would wait a couple of weeks so that I would have a steady stream of them to harvest.  I moved these items from where I was originally going to plant them.  I planted them in an area that does not have as much sun in the summer time so they won’t bolt and go to seed quickly.  Trying something new.

Seedlings that I started indoors (you can also direct seed)

Asparagus/Strawberries — Hopefully you can see the strawberries and the 2 asparagus rows that I have (they are bordered with that grass so I can keep an eye on them).  Asparagus takes some time to grow before you can really harvest them (a couple of years).  I had to add some more asparagus – we’ll see how it goes.

Asparagus and strawberry patch coming to life after the winter

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Posted by on March 19, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


Weather Still WET, but Potato Seed has arrived @ stores.

It’s been raining and snowing all week and as I mentioned before I will not be planting my early spring vegetable seeds in these conditions because I don’t want the seed to get molded and not germinate.  Weather says it will be raining into next week too; I will want to wait until the ground dries up a little before I plant because it’s just too muddy. looking at the weather,  I’m hoping next wed-fri perhaps – it’s supposed to rain again next sat.   Will keep you posted.

My more experienced, trusty neighbor said she was making a trip to the D&B Supply store to get her potato seed and I asked her to pick me up some Yukon Gold and Norland Red potato seed if they were in yet.  She reported back to me that they were in and purchased!  That seemed like it took forever to arrive – I’ve been looking for the past 2 weeks.  My neighbor said that the local planting date around here is St. Patrick’s Day; everybody knows it and she’s right. 

We both agreed that planting now was a bad idea and she asked if I kept notes last year like she does.  Yes I do, but I didn’t plant potatoes last year.  She said she planted her potatoes (and I’m assuming the peas, onions and such) March 28th last year (2010) due to weather.  So, I am on track and so are you if you are planning to garden a little in your own backyard this year.

You have a good week to week and a half to plan and purchase your potato seed if you want to take advantage of the seasonal timing; you can plant later, it will just harvest later that’s all.  Have fun with it.  The Yukon golds can get to a nice size, I think everyone is familiar with the sizing of the red potatoes, they sell the blue fleshed ones here but they grow small like new potato size; but fun for kids and such.

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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


Holding off planting until rain passes

I am remembering that last year when I planted the pea seeds it was really rainy, muggy, wet and that manyof the seeds I had planted didn’t germinate and molded in the ground.

The calendar is a guide to follow. I am waiting out the week to see how the weather turns, but have decided to wait until this series of storms passes so that seeds will not become waterlogged and mold.

Talk to you soon.

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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Uncategorized