Saturday, March 14, 2009

Potatoes in the bag

I finally got to the Potatoes-in-a-bag project. I took two run of the mill, 27 gallon, yard bags and put one inside the other. Then I cut three drainage holes with a pair of scissors. Here is where I ran into my first challenge for once I cut the holes the two bags got out of alignment and the holes in the inside bag did not match with the holes in the outside bag. So now, I am not 100% sure about how well this set will drain.
For the second set, I waited until I put the soil in before I punched the draining holes.
I used garden soil instead of potting mix because it was cheaper.
I put 1 cubic quart of soil in the bag and watered it in preparation for the seed potatoes.

Finally I put the potatoes in and hope that the black bags warm the soil and encourage the plants to grow. As I add dirt to the bag, I will unroll it until I am satisfied I will not need to add any more soil.

I repeated the process and made a second set. I did not add any compost or fertilizer to the bag as the soil already had nutrients added. I am not a great fan of Miracle Gro stuff but that's the only brand I could find at Lowe's.
The final step had to do with protecting the bags from Lexie, my rambunctious puppy. Here is the very temporary solution until I figure out something better:
I also got to sow my Irish Eyes sunflowers in peat pots, and I put my Galena tomatoes in peat pots as well.
I bought the lumber needed to protect my beds from Lexie but I did not get to work on that today. My friend Tim suggested that I enclose the area of the beds instead of enclosing each bed individually.
Tomorrow I will see about tackling more items from my to-do list.

Friday, March 13, 2009

To Do List

1. Plant potatoes in bags. I am using regular yard bags, with holes at the bottom for drainage. I may have to wrap them in chicken wire to keep my new destructive puppy from mauling them down.

2. Put 2x4 studs around my beds. And wrap chicken wire around them to keep my new destructive puppy from digging everything out. I was inspired to do this by my destructive puppy -Lexie and by a post on Karl's Garden Blog.

3. Prepare the garden plot in backyard. Clean weeds, add compost, add fence to keep my new destructive puppy from digging everything out.

4. Add dirt and water and plants to all self-watering containers. And, , figure out how to keep my new destructive puppy from thinking that these are her new chew-toys.

5. Sow my Irish Eyes sunflowers that will go in front yard. I did not want to start them too soon.

6. Prepare flower bed in front yard. I got most of it done last Fall but it still needs compost.

7. Plant white onion, Apache salad onion, and carrot seedlings in beds. Sow radish.

I am also very excited that my friend Tim has agreed to help me build my greenhouse made from second hand windows. It is just an idea so far but with Tim's help I may actually get it built.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Robust tomato plants

So far, this Market Miracle tomato plant has lived despite my neglect. I decided to put the plant outside because I believed we were in for a week's worth of above-freezing temperatures but I was wrong. This plant, along with a Brandywine tomato plant, has lived through at least 3 nights of sub-freezing and windy conditions. I expected them to be dead when I came home from work today but they were still alive so I brought them into the house for a well deserved break.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Consider the humble aluminum can. We don't think much about it. We drink the contents therein and then we either trash it or recycle it and then we forget about it. But the aluminum can is a wonder of modern engineering worthy of a second look. Every aspect of it was designed; more aluminum and you are wasting material; less aluminum and the pressurized contents will end up all over you pretty new shirt. The tab is made just tight enough to keep things in but loose enough to allow even the most delicate fingers to remove it. Then we make millions of exact copies, each performing at the same high level. Yep, pretty amazing.

Is your gardening a high precision enterprise? Do you know the exact chemical composition of your soil? Is your compost controlled to such a degree that you could patent it? Is your knowledge of your plants so deep that you could earn a Botany degree? Are you so tuned to the weather that they call you from the local tv station for the daily forecast?

My sophistication level in the garden rises a little every growing season but I am far from being the guy that understands how fertilizer travels down the soil seeking its point of optimum equilibrium, or any such thing.

Don't get me wrong. I would love to be a Master Gardener and possess such esoteric knowledge (In the age of Wikipedia, is there such a thing as esoteric knowledge anymore?).
But even at my mediocre level of gardening proficiency, I miss the early days. I miss those times when I just naively put seeds in peat pods, left them to get leggy and weak and then transplanted them into the first open spot in the yard. Sure I lost a lot of plants but I also got tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.

All the same, last year I bought a Ph test kit so I could optimize the soil for Blueberries, and a soil thermometer that in no small part, allowed for record germination rates this year. Will I ever become a Master Gardener? Will my gardening ever reach Aluminum-can like precission? Probably not but I doubt my joy for it will diminish no matter what.

How does YOUR garden grow?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

tomato death watch

We had a thunderstorm come through last night. When I went to bed it was in the 70s so I left the tomatos out to get a little rain water. When I awoke this morning, it was 37 degrees...I looked at the tomatos and they sure seemed like they did not appreciate that big change in temperature. I slacked and did not check the weather and now I am examining the tomatoes every 30 minutes or so waiting for the moment of death...or maybe they'll surprise me. (the temperature is up to 44 degrees and the sun is full out at the time of writing)

I also got to unpack and try my new gardening gadget. It worked really well on the loomy soil of the square gardening beds. I am somewhat conflicted about using a machine when I could be turning my soil the old fashion way but I think I will need this when the plants are fully developed and I need to cultivate around them. Plus, it really does save time and it allows me to target small areas.