Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Strawberries Are Here!!

My bare root strawberry plants arrived today, all 75 of them. And guess who is ill-prepared? Me. I don't have much of a clue on what to do with them. I don't think I can plant them yet, we just had snow a couple days ago!

So I called the nursery. They told me to wrap the roots in a damp paper towel, put them in a plastic bag and put them in the fridge. And so I did.

I ordered 3 different varieties, 25 of each, that will supposedly provide fresh strawberries all summer long. I got Honeoye and Sparkle, which are June bearers and Ozark Beauty, which is an everbearer.

It's hard to believe that, in the right hands, these dead looking things

will grow these beauties!


I have my plot all ready for them, I even bought bird netting so I don't have to share. Now I need to find out when I can put them out. 

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Seedlings Are Transplanted ... Well, Most of Them

One thing I did not take into consideration was whether or not I was going to have enough room under my light for the seedlings when I transplanted them into bigger pots.

Today, I transplanted the tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and some lettuce. I didn't have room for the onions, the rest of the lettuce or the mesclun mix. These are gonna have to stay in their little pots until they go outside next week.

I actually think, without looking, that the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can go outside next week too. Don't know if this week in a bigger pot will benefit them or not.

So I chose pots that are about 2" square or so. I think now that they're too small and I will probably have to pot up again before the tomatoes and peppers can go outside.

Anyway, I wasn't sure when I was supposed to transplant. I think I waited a little too long. Every single plant had roots coming out through the netting. And these little roots were broken off during the process. And now they are looking very droopy. I hope I didn't kill them. They're sad!

And here is a picture of the rest of my seedlings.

That lettuce is looking good enough to eat!

I did a lot of research about starting my garden, there was no "a wing and a prayer" type of thing going on. I found lots of discrepancies about how to do things and since I know nothing about it, I had to pick someone's method. I chose to follow the guidelines set out in Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening book.

I made the beds like he instructed, made my growing medium just like he said and I started my seeds as he suggested and when he suggested.

After posting my excitement about my progress in GardenWeb forums, I have been told that I started everything way too early and that some of the things I started from seed indoors was unnecessary as they could have been direct seeded. I was told that by the time I set them out they are going to be very big and I guess hard to survive the transplant.

So my little bubble was burst! Now I feel like I'm back to square one, not knowing whose advice to follow about when I should put these little plants outside. There's different dates all over the place! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

First Seeds Planted

Well I took the plunge today. I'm not sure if it is the right day or not. The package says 5 weeks before our last spring frost, so does the book, so that's what I'm doing. And besides that, I heard that St Patty's Day is the traditional day to plant peas. I need a little luck of the Irish.

It is very strange, this weather in Missouri. Just yesterday we had freezing temps and about 2 inches of snow and sleet fall. Today, no sweater required!

I planted 1 square of peas. I know that's not a lot, but you got to start somewhere. I also planted 1 square of spinach and I will probably wish I planted more for sure. We'll see. And I planted 1 square of carrots, which I will do again every 2 weeks until I have 4 squares planted. Maybe I can do that with the spinach too, I'll have to look into it. Then I watered lightly and covered with plastic like the book says to do.

This was my first time planting in Mel's Mix. I found it very loose and kinda difficult to work with. I guess I should have watered it down before planting.

Tomorrow I will transplant my seedlings into bigger pots. And I still have to tie my string on to make the individual squares. 

Yeah, I know that drawing is lame. 

I have been told that I started these seeds too early. So they probably won't come up (and they haven't yet). I will have to put some more out.
UPDATE: 4.8.14
A few of the spinach seeds have sprouted a few days ago, as have a few peas, no carrots in site. I guess I will put some more seeds in. 
Today I put some of the transplants in the beds. I planted broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce and onions. I put a cardboard tube around the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage so I hope the cutworms stay away! Tomorrow I will put the strawberries in and take a picture of everything.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Got My Seeds Started

I bought a Jiffy Greenhouse thing from either Lowe's or WalMart to start my seeds and a 2 T8 bulb fluorescent shop light type thing for lighting.

I made a small order of some seeds and used some seeds that I had bought last year and never used. I also used some seeds that I saved on my own from Farmer's Market produce.

I don't want to overdo it and be swamped with food I can't eat, but on the other hand I want to use the space and time I have to grow as much as I will use.

I started my seeds on Feb 21.It didn't take long for them to germinate, the ones that did anyway. I bought poblano peppers from Burpee and they have a very poor germination rate. I'm very disappointed!

Anyway, here's what I planted: 4 Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, 3 Gardener's Delight tomatoes, 1 orange tomato, 1 normal size red tomatoe, 1 Jimmy Nardello pepper, 1 Bull Nose pepper, 2 banana peppers, 2 poblano peppers, 2 broccoli, 2 cabbage, 2 cauliflower, 5 butterhead lettuce, 4 mesclun mix, and 20 bunching onions.

Like I said, the poblano didn't germinate so I planted some more on March 5. Then I read that they take quite a while to sprout so maybe I jumped the gun, but here it is about 3 weeks later and only 2 little sprouts showed up. The Calabrese broccoli didn't come up either, so I planted another of those. If all goes well, I will be giving some of these plants to 2 of my daughters.

I tried to use only heirloom or open pollinated varieties and will try to save the seeds from the peppers and tomatoes to share with people and to use next year.

Here is a picture of the seedlings on March 5.

I read that the seedlings have enough nutrients in their seed coat for about 7 days or so and then they would need fertilizer. I read that they should be given liquid fertilizer at a very diluted rate to start and then less dilute as time goes on. I didn't have any other fertilizer the last time I watered, so I used fish emulsion. I now have an all purpose type fertilizer to use.

Today I decided to thin out the plants. Here is the before picture. It's a veritable little jungle!

My plan was to thin out the weaker looking scraggly plants. There were only a couple in there that didn't bother me to cut off, the rest of them it was pretty hard to do. I hope I made the right choices. Here's what they look like now.

I'm not sure how long they can survive in those tiny little pots. I know I will have to transplant them into a bigger container before long. I bought some bigger ones so I'm ready.

I will also be direct seeding some spinach, carrots and peas pretty soon. And my strawberry plants will be arriving before long too.

Wish me luck!

I just realized that I never posted a picture of my raised beds. This picture was taken a few weeks ago. The beds are covered in plastic and there is snow and ice on top.