Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I’m a farmer-wannabe. Because I enjoy having a steady paycheck and a couple days off on a regular basis, I’ll probably never make the leap to becoming a real farmer.
Plus there’s the teeny-tiny problems of not actually owning farm land and no real knowledge of what I’m doing that might get in the way of my agrarian ambitions.
However, I’m pleased to announce the formation of Penny’s LSA farm. Unlike a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, which relies on an entire community to support the farm, mine just relies on Lynn.
Back in the winter when we were all drooling over seed catalogs, Lynn asked me if I’d be willing to grow plants if she bought the seeds. Because I knew I’d be expanding my garden (again!), I said sure.
So Lynn bought seeds sugar peas (which are looking pretty good right now), garden cress, eggplant and parsnips.
The tiny little eggplant seedlings aren’t happy at all since I transplanted them into the garden. Don’t know if they’ll survive or not. I haven’t planted the parsnips yet; I was waiting ‘til July, since they’re supposed to remain in the ground until at least one freeze.
I think Lynn spent about $8 on seeds. So far, she’s gotten tons of parsley as a customer appreciation bonus. I’ve spent tons of hours laboring in my garden, but I haven’t bothered keeping track of which hours were spent on my garden and which were on Lynn’s investment.
The cress is tiny, but it's supposed to be harvestable after two weeks, which means by next week, my Lynn Supported Agriculture farm will actually be producing the desired results.
I'm thinking of adding a beer or two to my labor charge.
By Penny Stine
Friday, May 13, 2011
Last weekend seemed to be the weekend to plant. Carol’s seedlings weren’t the only ones huddled and yearning to be free. I was busy on Saturday, so I planted some of my seedlings on Sunday afternoon. In the gale force hurricane winds that Carol blogged about...
Some of my tomato plants were a whopping four or five inches tall, but I’ve heard that you’re supposed to bury them up to the first leaves. After burying them that deep, they look pretty tiny and inconsequential. Not to mention unhappy about being buried alive in such an inhospitable place.
The peppers were pretty tiny and inconsequential to begin with, so they’re truly unimpressive now that they’re in the ground. In fact, it’s easy to lose them if the wind blows a leaf on top of them.
However, they’ve survived four and a half days on their own now, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that they'll survive.
If not, I still have plenty of seedlings left to transplant.
I am, however, running out of room, even with the addition of the new garden box in a grassy section of my front lawn.
If you look really hard, you might be able to see the poblano peppers, big Jims and Virginia Sweet and Kellogg Breakfast tomato plants in the box. They're not dead yet, which considering my level of gardening expertise, is probably a good sign!
By Carol Clark
Thursday, May 12, 2011
After months of raising my babies from tiny seeds I thought it was time. Time for them to go out into the big bad world and make lives for themselves.
Sadly, it has been a struggle for many tiny tomato and pepper plants. Seedlings were first set out on the cool, sunny morning of Saturday, May 7. As the sun rose higher and higher in the sky, the seedlings were screaming out for me to save them from the scorching sun. We ran to find something to cover them: old sheets, disregarded real estate signs, weed barrier. With nails and duct tape we quickly did all in our power to help them get a little shade.
Sunday started in the same cool innocent way of Saturday, but quickly turned ugly with high winds. My babies were so small and helpless in the hurricaine force gales. Leaves were being ripped to shreds.
Then came Monday morning with it's cold temps. The night before, we put disposable cups over each of the helpless seedlings who were already half dead from the desprate days before. Yes, cool rains watered the dry ground in the day, but evening brought cold temperatures they had never felt before in their short lives.
It's now Thursday. There are a few survivors, but they are weak. Only time will tell if they will survive the cold, hard world. You can help these victims of climate change by sending your generous, non-tax deductible gift to Carol Clark at The Daily Sentinel. All donations will go toward nursery bedding plants.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I planted morning glories, runner beans and corn in a little planting bed last year where I also had an old farm implement. I hoped the vining plants would climb up the rusty potato digger and around the corn, creating a charming site. Instead I got a jungle. So I moved the potato digger to a bigger space, vowed not to plant corn and runner beans together and decided to dig up any morning glories that sprouted and put them somewhere else, figuring that this tiny little plot would be a perfect place for lemon cucumbers rather than the morning glory/corn/beans mess that was there last year.
Someone told me that morning glories reseeded themselves every year, so I’ve been checking the dirt, hoping to find some that I could dig up and move. I finally found them, just not where I expected.
At first, I figured they were something else, since I know I planted something (Chinese cabbage, kale or quinoa) around that area.
Then I realized I didn’t plant anything in the rocks, those really are morning glory sprouts and this is the spot where I dumped all the overgrown vines and plants when I pulled them out of the garden last fall, since I didn’t have a compost bin yet.
No telling what else may sprout…
By Penny Stine
Friday, May 6, 2011
I tried to start transitioning my seedlings to life outside the living room last week, but was frustrated by the wind. And the snow. (scroll down to admire Carol's pics of snow covering her garden boxes.)
So I’ve been trying to get them ready this week. I had all but decided to wait until the weekend of the 14th to plant them in the garden, figuring that an extra week of transition time would be good.
Then someone from out of town called to say they’d like to visit that weekend, which made me realize I didn’t want to forego doing something fun because I had to plant seedlings. After all, I don’t want to be held hostage by my garden or my seedlings – it’s a hobby, not a job.
So I’ve been accelerating the transition phase. They spent their first night outside last night and looked pretty good this morning.
Some of the tomatoes don’t look so good, but I think it’s because I was overwatering them in the house and not because they got scorched by the sun. Most look pretty good, even if they're not as big as ones available at a greenhouse. I tell myself that starting seeds indoors is still worth it because of the unusual varieties I can get from seed catalogs. If I don't get any decent tomatoes this year, I may give up on starting seeds and just resign myself to buying plants. Or buying a grow light.
Last year, I killed most of my tomatoes during transition because I stuck them in the bright sunshine too soon, so I’ve been trying to be more gradual. I’m thinking that given next week’s forecast of partly cloudy days, it might actually be better to get them in the ground this weekend rather than wait for next. Especially since they’ve been outside for entire days (and nights) this week.
Any thoughts or words of wisdom about transitioning seedlings?