The early May garden is growing really fast now that the rainy and cold weather has moved on, for the most part. The soil is still a little cold and wet, so I will not be planting beans any time soon. The overwintered top-setting onions are growing like mad, so I have been harvesting these for green onions almost every other day. I will keep about half of them in order for them to mature and produce top-sets for next year’s crop. The overwintered lettuce is about finished growing, so I will harvest the rest of that and remove the plants. The spring planted lettuce is growing very well, and harvest will begin on that soon. The radishes are growing really fast and harvest has begun on them. If you would like to grow radishes, I would recommend the variety “Champion.” It has never failed to grow for me. Radishes are super easy to grow and mature super fast (usually within 30-45 days). They are a better choice for spring planting if you live further north. I am hoping to plant my cucumber, pepper, and tomato transplants within the next 7-10 days. I posted some pictures below of my garden. Happy Planting!
Top-Setting Onions Growing Fast
Spring Planted Candy and Red Candy Onions Getting Green Tops
Overwintered Lettuce Ready to Harvest
Spring Planted Lettuce Growing Nicely
The April garden is growing slowly right now, probably due to all of the rain and colder than normal temperatures. The soil is pretty much saturated right now, but the good news is the weather forecast is calling for warmer temperatures into the 70′s, with just a chance of some scattered rain (hopefully nothing too heavy). There was some scattered frost for two consecutive mornings a few days ago, but nothing that damaged any of the cold tolerant plants (peas, radish, lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli) that were already out in the garden. I will be planting my brussels sprouts transplants out into the garden today. Most of the peas have germinated and are now about 1 inch tall. The spring transplanted lettuce growing under the hoop is starting to get bigger. The red potatoes planted in one of the 4′x4′ raised beds about 10 days ago are starting to poke up through the soil. I was able to side dress the onions with some organic fertilizer about 5 days ago. The onions are starting to green up a bit, but even they are growing slower than normal. I am hopeful to start harvesting some of the top setting onions, for green onions, in about another week. I harvested a little of the overwintered lettuce about a week ago, and I will be harvesting some more within the next few days. It is still a little early to put out peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The soils needs to warm up and dry out a bit before any bean and corn seeds can be sown. I posted some pictures below of my garden, taken 4-22-13. Happy Spring Planting
Peas About 1 Inch Tall Now
Onions Starting to Grow and Green-Up. Top-Settings Onions Near Top Left of Picture
Overwintered Lettuce "Sierra" Getting Bigger and Newly Planted Radishes
Spring Transplanted Lettuce Seedlings Getting Bigger Growing Under the Plastic Covered Hoop
A Look Inside the Coldframe
Last night I watched the “Back to Eden” film. Back to Eden is an organic and no-till gardening method designed by Paul Gautschi. In this video Paul shares his lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden. I like Paul’s calm and reflective demeanor, especially when he talks about his garden.
I have been hearing a lot about this gardening method for the past year or so. Interesting enough, this technique is not really new, as it is based on an ancient growing technique known as “sheet composting.” The video is well worth watching. You can view the Back to Eden video on-line at this address: http://backtoedenfilm.com/#movie or http://vimeo.com/28055108
Happy Earth Day! I am celebrating Earth Day by planting broccoli and cabbage transplants out into the garden today.
The spring planting season is well underway right now. Peas and radish seeds were planted on March 30th and they have since germinated. Most of the lettuce seedlings were transplanted out into the garden under the plastic hoop on April 6th. The rest of the lettuce seedlings will be planted out within the next week. The overwintered lettuce growing under the hoop is greening up a bit and has started to grow new leaves, but they are still somewhat small. The broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts seedlings will be planted out in about another week. These seedlings need a little more time to grow anyways. It is also best to wait for the weather to warm a bit more. The third or fourth week of April is usually the right time to get these seedlings out into the garden in my zone. If you plant these out too soon, a late freeze could kill them. Cucumber seeds were planted in small pots and placed in the cold frame on April 7th and they have already germinated. The onions that were transplanted out into the garden before the snow are growing a little slower than normal, but all of them appear to have made it through the cold and snow just fine. Hopefully, they will start growing better as the weather warms up. I will be fertilizing them soon. The perennial walking/topsetting onions are also growing slower than normal. Red potatoes were planted out into one of the 4×4 raised beds on April 7th.
The weather has finally warmed up and the garden received some much needed rain a few days ago. The grass has really greened up over the past week and the spring flowering trees and shrubs are just starting to bloom.
I have posted some updated pictures below. Happy Spring Planting!!
Cold Frame in Use - Picture Taken 4-5-13
Inside of Cold Frame - Picture Taken 4-5-13
Overwintered Lettuce Starting to Green-up, Picture Taken 4-5-13
My Early Spring Garden, Picture Taken 4-5-13
Received my onion plants from Dixondale Farms on March 22nd. I decided to plant them yesterday, as 6-10 inches of snow was/is predicted for today I thought if I did not get the onions in the ground yesterday, I would not see bare ground for at least another week. Onions are strong and fairly cold tolerant, so I think they will survive the snow (at least I hope so). I planted about 100 onions plants yesterday, both “Candy” and “Red Candy Apple” varieties. My back and legs are a little sore today, but I am glad that I got the onions in the ground before the snow. For more information on selecting and planting onions see these two past blog posts: Onion Planting Time, How to Chose the Right Onion Variety and A Guide to Planting Onions. I also worked the edges of some of the garden beds and removed any grass that had started to grow into them. I like to do this in the early spring before the garden gets planted. I will try to get some radishes and peas planted by next weekend, so long as the snow is melted by then. All of my seedlings (lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and celery) are now in the cold frame, with the exception of the green peppers, which I just started indoors on March 22nd. I was able to spread the last of my compost over the garden beds about one week ago. I then let my chickens have fun in the garden beds. They loved working over the beds with all of the new compost spread over them. The weather has been colder than normal for most of the month of March so far. At least we had 4 days in a row of sun. The seedling in the cold frame enjoyed the warmth of the sun, even if it was a little cool outside. With any luck, some of the lettuce seedlings growing in the cold frame will be large enough to plant outside under a plastic covered hoop in another 2-3 weeks. I hope it is warmer and less snowy where you are gardening!
The cold frame went up on February 24th, but I have not moved any seedlings out into the frame because it has been too cold. I am starting lettuce seeds today and will move them outside into the cold frame as soon as they germinate (probably in about 4 0r 5 days). I usually like to wait until the weather warms a bit and we get some sun. Man, we have not seen the sun here in Central Indiana for at least 6 days. It has been cold, rainy, and snowy for the past few weeks now. The forecast looks a lot better, especially in another 4 days, when the high temperatures are projected to get into the 40′s with sun!! If the weather continues to improve, I will start seeds of brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage in about another week. SPRING IS HERE
In the spring of 2012 I decided to experiment with making my own organic fertilizer after reading several “recipes” on the Internet. I knew I could probably make my own organic fertilizer a little cheaper than store bought or pre-made fertilizers, but how well would it work. Well, my own organic made fertilizer worked really well. The key to making your own fertilizer (and making it cost effective) is to buy all of your ingredients in bulk. The largest component of your own organic fertilizer is seed meal. The most common seed meal ingredients are cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, or soybean meal. Any one of these seed meals can be purchased in 50 lbs. bags from a local feed and seed store. Other ingredients needed (at smaller quantities) include bone meal, kelp meal, and dolomite lime (if your soil’s pH is more acidic). The kelp meal will probably be the most expensive component (per weight), but fortunately you will not use as much of this as the seed meal. Important things to consider when purchasing these products is make sure you have a clean and dry place to store these products, especially the seed meal as you will have some extra left over (unless you have a a large garden). I purchased a few large galvanized trash cans, one to hold the extra seed meal and one to hold the finished fertilizer. Here is the recipe I used:
All measurements are in terms of volume, not weight.
- 4 Parts Soybean Meal
- 1 Part Dolomite Lime (optional unless soil pH is neutral to acidic)
- 1/2 Part Bone Meal
- 1/2 Part Kelp Meal
I did not use any dolomite lime in my fertilizer because my soil is on the alkaline side. If you soil is pH neutral to acidic, dolomite lime should be used. If in doubt, go ahead and use at least some lime (maybe 1/2 part).
Here are several good links about organic fertilizers and information about how to make your own complete organic fertilizer:
If you have already used your own organic fertilizer or plan to do so in the future, please let me know how it worked.
On January 5th I harvested quite a few tasty carrots under the collapsed snow covered hoop (see pics below). Despite single digit low temperatures and 8 inches of snow, the carrots were perfectly fine. I let the hoop collapse under the weight of the snow, figuring that the snow would give the carrots a little bit more cold protection, and apparently I was right. The soil was not frozen at all. In fact, I found quite a few worms still wiggling about as I was digging the carrots. The dug carrots were firm and very sweet. If you have not tasted carrots harvested in the colder fall and winter months, then you are missing out!! These carrots will be much sweeter than the ones harvested in summer.
Collapsed Snow Covered Hoop - I Hope the Carrots are not Frozen!
Wow, the Carrots Look Fine Under the Hoop and the Snow!
The Final Harvest of Carrots on 1/5/2013
Happy New Year Everybody!! The snow showed up here a day after Christmas. Eight inches of snow fell, which is the most snow we have seen in Indianapolis for about 2 years now. The last of the brussels sprouts were harvested about one week before Christmas. The only thing left to harvest in the garden are carrots. They are still under a plastic covered hoop buried under all of the snow. I might try to dig them up in another week or so. As long as the ground does not freeze, the carrots should be fine. All of my seeds have been ordered for the 2013 growing season. Spring is not too far away. With favorable weather, the cold frame should go up in another 5 weeks!!
Not much to do in the garden this time of year. I let the chickens out to stretch their wings a bit, but they are not big fans of the snow. They stayed on the shoveled path for the most part (see pics below). They have not laid any eggs for the last 6 weeks or so, but have just started laying again a few days ago. The loss of daylight and subsequent molt (loss and replacement of feathers) is the reason for their lack of egg production.
At least I am still eating fresh brussels sprouts and cabbage from the garden that have been stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks
Yours Truly with Maisy - Chickens Make Good Hand Warmers!
It's a Chicken Parade in the Snow - Notice the Lettuce Hoop House to the Left
Chickens Staying on the Shoveled Path
Wow, it has been about 6 weeks since my last post. Sorry for not posting sooner. A lot has changed in the garden since late October. The last head of broccoli was harvested about 3 weeks ago. The fall broccoli produced really well for me this year. The 4 cauliflower plants produced good medium sized heads and were harvested about one week ago. The last of the cabbage heads were harvested yesterday, December 11th. The heads of this variety, Late Flat Dutch, were big, but not very dense (see pic below). Most probably did not exceed 2 pounds, but the flavor has been excellent. The cabbage and cauliflower plants were protected with row covers until harvested. Harvest has continued on the Jade Cross brussels sprouts. This might be the best brussels sprout crop ever. I still have a few more sprouts left to harvest (see pic below). The lettuce is still producing, but that harvest will probably end within the next few weeks (see pic below). I want to leave some to overwinter under the plastic covered hoop. Most of the carrots are still in the ground under another hoop and will probably stay in the ground for another few weeks. Overall, the fall garden has produced very well. This might be the latest I have ever harvested cabbage and cauliflower in the fall. I did find out that my chickens like broccoli leaves. This is great since I usually compost these. I opened up the garden bed (I call it the chicken “salad bar”) to let the chickens have their fill of greens. The 2012 garden season will come to the end in another few weeks. Time to start planning for the 2013 garden season. I have already ordered all of my seeds for next year, which is early even for me.
Here is wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
Last of Fall Cabbage Heads Harvested
A Few Brussels Sprouts Still Awaiting Harvesting
Lettuce Still Growing Under Plastic Covered Hoop
Green Shoots of Fall Planted Topsetting Onions
7 Very Spoiled Hens Wanting to Be Fed