Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tomato transplants

Today was a transplant day.  It is a complicated process involving washing and sanitizing pots and trays, filling the pots with potting soil, placing several pots in each tray, then using a large dibble and my hands to transplant small plants into a larger pot.  I try to bury the tomato plants deeper than they were originally in order to develop strong root systems.
I start with the pots and trays, spraying them off with water in our outdoor sink, and filling one of the sinks with water and physan-20 which is a sanitizing product I use to prevent contamination of the plants with fungus or bacteria.  I then do the transplanting and label each plant with labels I recycle from previous years (which are originally from venetian blinds which we cut up to make the labels).
I then put the trays with the transplants on a heating pad in the greenhouse which keeps a 68 degree F temperature.  I will pull the plants off the heatmat after a few days and leave them on an upper shelf in the greenhouse.
Here is what it looks like after the transplanting.
I also seeded broccoli and cauliflower today and put them in six packs.  I'll be planting lettuce and other greens as well as zucchini and pumpkins tomorrow.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Transplanting, fruit blossoms

Today was a transplanting (and of course weeding) day.  The first transplanting I did affected the tomatoes I planted from seed on Feb. 26th, and the cauliflowers and broccoli planted March 4th.  I usually plant two seeds to each cell of a 6 pack, and then transplant one of the plants if they both come up in the cell.  I usually wait for at least the second true leaves to appear before transplanting and that is what I did today.  Here is a picture of some of the baby transplants in the greenhouse. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
baby transplants
The next transplanting was done with larger plants which were originally seeded near the beginning of February.  The lettuce, broccoli of 4 types, and kale should have been put in the ground about a week ago, but today was the day I got to it.  I weeded a section of our big garden bed in the front of our house and planted these plants there, then watered them in with Maxsea fertilizer.
As I wandered around the yard I noticed that various fruit trees and bushes are now in bloom.  Here are pics of plum, pear, and huckleberry flowers.
Brooks plum



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Transplanting into the garden

Today was the day I transplanted seeds I had started on Feb. 6th into the garden.  It has been a wild day or two of weather - cold, showery, with some small hail several times during the day.  The transplants had spent the last two days outside near the greenhouse in order to harden off, but I wish they had an easier time of it.  Several leaves were damaged by the wind and hail, but I am hoping the transplanting will help them.  Here are the pictures of the three or four types of lettuce, the 4 different kales, and the 4 different broccolis I transplanted.  Click pictures to enlarge.
Some transplants
Transplanting broccoli

Watering in with Maxsea
The transplants

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blueberry bed, mystery plant unfolding, greenhouse starts

   Illijana is fixing up the blueberry bed these days.  We are using redwood sawdust that we are retrieving from a cabinet shop after laying down a bit of compost underneath.  Here is a pic of the portion done thus far.  You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.


Here is a photo of a mystery plant unfolding.  Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what it is?

Finally, the greenhouse is continuing its incredibly useful seed starting function.  Here are pics of plants almost ready to plant out, and the next round of seedlings (primarily tomatoes.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A minor oops, and planting rhodies

     Today was a theoretically good day for transplanting, but operator error created a minor oops.  I wanted to transplant a tomato plant (Nova paste tomato) that had grown in the greenhouse hydroponic setup last year and had survived the winter with no care into the ground in the hothouse.  As I was getting the plant out of its pot, I destroyed its root system by pulling it too hard.  Sigh.  My carefully laid plan was ruined in just a moment.
     On a happier note, Illijana decided to transplant some of the rhododendron plants we have sitting in pots out into the garden.  We built up a collection of plants in one gallon pots when we pick them up from nurseries that have them in their discount sections.  Since it is supposed to pour (rain hard) in the next several days, we thought we would take advantage of the weather and transplant them now.  Here is a picture of the first which is being placed at the top of Moss Terrace.  You can read the history of Moss Terrace here: Moss Terrace history
Illijana planting a rhododendron

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Compost, seedlings, planting seeds, planting labels

This morning was a good astrological time to plant above ground crops so I planted four varieties of broccoli, two types of cauliflower, lettuce, and collard greens.  I planted the seeds in small 6 packs filled with Foxfarm Happy Frog potting soil.  I use a dibble to drill holes for the seeds, put in the seeds, usually two per cell, and water.  One of the key items during planting is the creation of a label for the 6 packs.  I use recycled venetian blinds which I cut to the appropriate length, and label with the information I want, which is type of seed, variety, seed company, year of the seed, and how many cells I planted and how many seeds per cell.  On one end of the label I write in the seeding date, and the moon phase.  All this info is written in pencil so the label is reusable at a later time.  Here is a picture of the labels from today. (Click to enlarge).
planting labels
tomato seedlings

While in the greenhouse today I noted that the first tomato seedlings I planted from seed last week were up.  Here is a pic of the first seedlings.

The second part of the garden day was spent with our compost.  We spread compost which was completed some weeks ago on one of the garden beds, and then built another compost pile in the tumbler using grass clippings from the lawn being mowed today.  To those clippings we add sawdust (redwood in this case) from a local cabinet maker, spent coffee grounds given away free at Starbucks, and finally a very small amount of a combination of blood meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal, chicken manure pellets, greensand, and dolomite lime.  Here is a picture of the ingredients.
compost tumbler
The tumbler being filled is pictured here.
All in all a very satisfying garden day!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Espalier in the early spring

After weed whacking the yard with my string trimmer in preparation for the first lawn mowing of the season, I moved into a second garden task which was spraying the fruit tree espalier with copper oil to prevent diseases.  It was a little late for copper spray, as it should have been done a couple of weeks ago, but I did get to it today.
This espalier, created 12 years ago consists of 9 apple trees and 6 pear trees (3 European pears, 3 Asian pears).  The apples do very well, the pears not so much as the climate does not favor them here.  In fact we have been talking about replacing the pear trees with apples.  We will see.  This espalier is shaped in the losange variation of the Belgian Fence pattern.  The basic idea is to criss-cross branches of the trees and to keep them within a defined width.  Each year in winter I cut back the espalier, especially at the top and on each side to keep it in a defined space.

This espalier runs east-west(see hint of Pacific Ocean in the background of the pic on the left).

One of the trees is already in bloom but there aren't many pollinators out yet.  I may do the brush technique later this week to assist pollination.  Here is a pic of the flower. Click to enlarge.
apple blossom (Anna apple)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The earliest of the early

Living up to the implication of its name (fast out of the gate), Derby Day cabbage sprouted today in the 6 packs they were planted in.  Here is a photo of the earliest sprout.
Another of the earliest of the early is asparagus.  Today was the day of the appearance of the earliest spear of asparagus.  Here is what it looked like.