Yup – Not good at keeping this blog updated. I figured that may happen. But I am trying to really let myself be content with whatever I get done with stuff like this. There is so much “should do” and “didn’t get done” guilt in life and I am trying really hard to manage that. It is a tough process and change so we’ll consider it a work in progress.
Anywhoooo….. The gardens! Things are growing so much. I have added more photos to the gallery. I am learning lots and making notes for future years. Red Reif tomatoes divide into two stems so that has meant changes in trellis ideas, sone cherry tomatoes are monster plants, beans seem to be my struggle this year, I have one cucumber started and it looks straight so far, and oh my the bugs this year! Yellow striped cucumber beetles, slugs, etc have been causing lots of problems.
I will try to do some little updates more regularly, but… no promises.
Well, the concept is not really that complicated or hard to learn. The hard part is being patient and not rushing your seedlings. I have read a bunch of articles and tips on hardening off and the concept is all the same. The tender seedlings that you have been growing inside or in a greenhouse need to gradually be exposed to living outside in the elements. By growing inside a protected space they haven’t developed their defences to wind, sun (UV rays), rain, bugs, etc.
Hardening off means exposing them a bit at a time and then for longer periods of time each day. It can also mean a lot of lugging of seedlings in and out. However, without doing it all your hard work of growing seedlings is at a huge risk for stunting plants and killing plants.
This year I am trying to use a cold frame to reduce the lugging in and out, but I have a lot of learn about that still. I think it is going to be a good thing once I get more confident in it. It can certainly get hot in there. Someday maybe I will have a greenhouse for seed starting… but I still need to harden off seedlings.
I know that it is hard to wait to harden off seedlings. We want to get things in the garden because we get so excited or maybe because we are running out of space for the seedlings. My tomatoes have gotten tall this year and I have lost a couple to breakage while moving. They will be planted deeply so they should do well, as long as I don’t kill them all by snapping stems.
I have been hardening off the tomatoes over the last week. I have held a few back inside just in case there is a big loss. I hope to get the ones that have been outside planted tomorrow. : )
The sunroom is starting to get a bit crowded as the seeds I started are becoming plants.
There certainly have been lessons learned this year as I suspect will happen each year. Be picky about what soil you use for seedlings. I had bought some soil this year and it has way too much peat moss. There is certainly not enough drainage. I have noticed it really impacting my peppers and tomatoes that seem to have gotten waterlogged the last time I watered. Ughhh… I think I can rescue most of them.
They are also getting really tall this year. That is ok in some ways for tomatoes since I can plant them deeply but the peppers are a different story. We’ll see how it goes. It makes it hard to move them around though. I have lost a few to breakage when trying to move them. I am going to be hardening off the tomatoes this week/weekend as the forecast looks good and I don’t want to risk them getting even taller.
I have planted lots of plants (too many for my garden) so I will be sure to have enough. I guess that is why seed starting extras is so important. It is sad when you lose a plant that you have worked so hard on. That is a lesson I am learning as well. It is ok to plant more, thin, and throw away some seedlings. It is better for the plants you end up with. Still hard though…
The mason bees that appeared around our house last year returned and are getting ready to finish up their pollinating jobs. Last year I built a mason bee hotel/house, but it was a bit late getting up. I left it up in the garden and this year it is a hit! Over the last few days there have been dozens of bees coming and going.
We learned a lot about mason bees last year: they are solitary bees so they don’t build hives; they lay eggs in holes and tubes around their environment, they are docile, and they are wonderful (and early) pollinators. You can learn a lot more about them online.
We are hoping to get a few more bee houses made this year and hopefully we won’t miss the short window of them using it. If so we will leave them up again for next year.
I have been busy over the last couple weeks. I spend way too much time on my Garden Planner figuring out what to plant where. Now things are going in so there can less changes.
I have carrots starting to come up, the turnips are coming along and so is the bok choi. The peas are doing well too. I have transplanted lettuce from plants I grew and some I bought recently. They all seem to be coming along nicely. I have also put the broccolini in the garden, planted parsnips, and more beets. What else? This morning I just put in a couple of transplants from a friend – kale, kohlrabi and swiss chard. The kale and kohlrabi weren’t in my original plan but let’s see what happens.
Over the last couple of weeks, there have been lots going on around here for the garden. There have been some really nice weather days which has made being patient for the garden even harder. I have been planting more seeds, moving peppers and tomatoes out of the seedling trays into larger containers, and I did plant a few things out! I have added photos to the Gardens 2021 gallery to share with you.
I am adding another raised bed (6′ x 3′) to my veggie garden this year. This photo may be before we took a level off it since it seemed too deep. It will be mostly shaded so hoping to be able to keep lettuce viable longer throughout the summer. Thanks to my hubby for building it for me. He even got it all filled with garden soil too! I am currently out of commission with a significant carpal tunnel flare-up in my left wrist so I couldn’t do much to help. I am not in the best mood about that for sure. I am looking forward to some lighter garden tasks that hopefully I can do soon. Meanwhile… more seeds have sprouted and more are planted 🙂
As I was moving around some of my containers yesterday and cleaning out some debris I found one of my small planters laying on its side with a surprise for me! I hadn’t thought the chives that I grew in the container last year would have survived the winter! This is one of the sets of chives I grew from seed last year. I have lots of chives in the garden that are up (many I have had for years), but this was a pleasant surprise to find them alive and well in a planter. I stood it up, added some free growing mix soil and it is sitting on my back step awaiting more herbs to have as friends when the weather warms up.
I checked on my seedlings this evening, as I do each evening (and most mornings to be honest) expecting to see moist soil and to let a little built up water off the dome. And what did I find?! Sprouted tomatoes already! I guess the heat mats really do speed things up.
This ‘wintery’ weather morning is not going to keep me from thinking about spring and flowers.
After soaking the seeds overnight I planted sweet peas. Hopefully, it will give them a head start. I planted them in coconut coir pots so they can be directly planted in the garden. They don’t like their roots disturbed. I can also plant seeds directly in the garden which I may do as well.
Other flowers are started too! I planted Gazania seeds that I collected last year (pink, red, and a bunch that I lost the label on so the colour will be a surprise. I planted calendula (hoping for earlier blooms by starting them inside). I planted some seeds I collected last year and some from the package of seeds I had leftover from last year. And last but not least for the flowers, I planted some Black-Eyed Susan Vine. I often buy this for use in planters so I thought I would try to start it from seed this year.
In other news… the pepper seedlings needed some water and I planted some mesclun mix lettuce seeds. I didn’t have much luck starting lettuce seeds indoors last year, but I’ll give it another go and see how it works.
The idea of collecting seeds is interesting to me. We’ll see if I get motivated and I might try to save some tomato seeds this year too. That sounds like a bit of a process, but something new to learn.