Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Catching Up With Dianne

Final tomato harvest
Tomatoes at Christmas!
Hi, Suzanne!

I thought you would like to know what is going on in the garden and what is planned. The tomatoes and peppers were pulled the first part of November. There were a lot of green tomatoes that I put in bags to ripen. We were still eating the Black Cherries the week of Christmas. 

The peppers did very well, but I believe would have produced even more if they had not been planted so close together (one square foot each). I had no idea they'd get as big as they did, and next year will spread them out a little more. All the square foot markers will be removed because I find that not everything fits into this template. Overall, I was really happy with the peppers and tomatoes from my little patch. 

Final pepper harvest
I am now trying my hand at winter gardening. One problem I've had is not having enough fall/winter seedlings to fill all the space when crops are harvested. I bought some lettuce and collard seedlings, but most of the fall seedlings in the stores looked old and wilted. I started about a dozen Baby Romaine seedlings myself, and also direct seeded some things. I have spinach, mustard greens, kale, parsnips, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, several varieties of lettuce and snow peas. 

Mustard greens - these did well and I've planted more
I had slow germination on some things, especially the kale and spinach. I finally tried soaking the spinach seeds in water overnight, and then had good germination in less than two weeks on direct seeding in December. I seem to have more success with seedlings than direct seeding. The snow peas had lots of blossoms but very few peas. I don't know why, because those planted last spring did very well. I have talked to two other gardeners who had the same problem this fall. 

So far, the only root crops I've harvested have been the carrots. 

Everything else is slowly growing with the protection of the row cover. I will be getting my soil tested again because I have a feeling I may be low on nitrogen and possibly need to add lime.

A great book for learning about winter gardening is TheWinter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman. I was happy to find out that he used the same brand of row cover that I chose for my garden. I put hoops over the entire bed and covered it with Agribon AG-50 row cover, which is supposed to protect it to 24 degrees. For lower than 24, I plan on putting on an extra layer of plastic.  The row cover can be sourced here.

My next project is seed starting. I am setting up a small area with just the light fixture yet to be hung. I hope this will enable the garden to be more productive, as I will be able to have a constant supply of seedlings ready to put in whenever there is an empty spot.

Suzanne, it will soon be a year since I started planting in the raised bed. I have learned a lot. I am looking forward to expanding with the second bed. I will be correcting some of the things I did wrong last year, but I realize that there will always be other challenges to deal with. I look forward to learning new things and sharing experiences with other gardeners. We all learn so much from each other. I will send you an update of anything that might be of interest to veggie gardeners in the coming year. Thank you so much for asking me to share my adventure.


"A garden is never so good as it will be next year."
             ---Thomas Cooper

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