Thursday, April 26, 2012

All Cleared!

And there's the rosemary plant I saved! All ready for action, which should be this weekend. My 10 heirloom plants arrived today too - 6 pepper and 4 tomato.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sustainable Gardening

I wanted to dedicate one post to sustainability in gardening.

What is sustainability? Sustainability is based on the simple principle that everything we need for our survival and well-being depends on our natural environment.

What is sustainable gardening? Sustainable gardening means making a thriving garden by using naturally occurring elements that are good for the garden and for the environment.

For me, it means using natural fertilizers, such as compost. It also means that when I start my seeds indoors I try to use as many naturally occurring sources of heat and light as possible. It's not always possible, but I alternate my seedlings between a grow light and the back of my car, which serves as a greenhouse, depending on the weather. Once it's warm enough, I open my windows and the plants naturally harden off.

Sustainable gardening also includes companion planting. For example planting basil at the base of tomato plants helps to deter insects. Or planting garlic or leeks near carrots to deter pests.

Another idea is to rotate your crops. If you plant tomatoes in the same spot every year your soil will always be deprived of nitrogen because tomatoes take all of their nitrogen needs from the soil. You could rotate your tomato plantings with bean plants which are thought to add nitrogen to the soil. Or plant them interspersed. Obviously not every gardener has the luxury of multiple garden beds, but sustainability is about creativity sometimes.

It may also be possible (or not) to introduce beneficial insects to your garden. I have not tried this yet, but I hear that worms an toads are very beneficial, as well as lady bugs and obviously bees. Planting any type of plant that may attract lady bugs or bees is a simple start.

Some gardened gather rain water to water their garden. For a relatively small investment you can set up a rain barrel to collect rain water and water your plants from collected rain. For a larger investment, you can set up your houses water system to collect what is called "grey water." Grey water is water such as shower or sink run off (not dirty water like from the toilet) and you can water your garden with this. It is much more expensive and requires a commitment to using non chemical products. It's an interesting idea!

Another simple idea is to maintain perennial herbs or vegetables. Check your USDA gardening zone first to see what is considered a perennial in your annual, but there are many for even colder climates.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Clearing the land...

I claimed my community garden plot on Saturday. I showed up right at 10am in order to get a decent plot. This one looked nice. Close to the fence so Healy can join me (tied to fence) without walking in any beds. Luckily whoever used my plot last year used landscaping fabric so I was able to pull it up along with a large chunk of weeds. Then I mixed in something called bumper crop which is meant to enrich the soil. Then I attempted to turn in the bumper crop when a fellow gardener took pity on me and let me use his "roto-tiller" which tills the earth with a lot less effort. I left a rosemary plant and took out everything else. Sunday is rained and its supposed to be a little colder this so week so i didn't plant anything this weekend.

Next weekend I plant!

One week till Planting!

The carden was getting a little crowded so my plants will spend a week at my parents house where they will bring the flat in and out day and night until the garden is ready for planting. Also, I need to use my car today and it's a little dicey having the plants in the back while the cars moving. These are the plants indoors at my parent's house! I noticed a small bit of fuzz on them, which destroyed my seedlings last year. I'm hoping some sun will dry that out if it's caused by too much moisture. Unfortunately it's raining again today so there's not much sun and heat to dry them out. It seems to be pretty small/minor so far. We will see!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Stake Through the Heart!

Last summer I grew 4 tomato plants, 5 eggplant, and 3 pepper plants. Some were bush variety and didn't require any cages or stakes, but some definitely did. At first I thought I would stake them. "That's like putting a stake right through the plants heart!" my dad exclaimed. So I bought 3 fancy cages for not that much money and they were happy all summer long. "Why doesn't everyone use cages!?" I wondered.

This year I have 35 plants going in, almost all of them need cages or stakes and now I see why people aren't using cages. They're not cheap! I have the 3 from last year, but that's definitely not going to cut it.

This week's mission is to find affordable cages an aside, landscape fabric to prevent weeds. This year I am rectifying the mistakes of last year.

Saturday I'm picking up my garden keys and Sunday I'll be prepping to soil. I can't wait!

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Garden Runneth Over.

On Saturday I received a letter informing me that community garden keys would be distributed this coming weekend. This is such a relief because my tomato plants are ready to be released into the wild. They're almost too tall for my carden. Plus, I'd like to get them in the ground to make room to start more seedlings-bean and squash. The banana peppers are still small (no second set of leaves) so I'll keep those in the car for now. This is what the carden looks like today!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Seedlings

The garden is all I can think about lately. I realized that with the plants I'm growing and the 10 plants I ordered, I might have about 35 plants in my 5'x20' garden plot. Gulp.

It breaks down like this:
6 heirloom sweet pepper plants (varied)
4 heirloom tomato plants (varied)
6 banana pepper plants
7 eggplants
6 Roma tomatoes
5 grape tomatoes

That doesn't include the green beans and cranberry beans I want to start. Ad carrots and zucchini! I can do without carrots but I won't go another year without zucchini. I considered giving away some plants but I like the challenge of having too much and I want to have enough to preserve. So...I'm going forward with this every plant (as of today).

The Carden is being used off and on, weather permitting (meaning it has to be a clear sunny day). My check for the garden cleared and I'm just waiting for details on plot assignments.