Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring is slowly coming
Old Winter seems to be hanging on this year until the very last gasp.  Even though the day time temperatures are now in the 50s and 60s, the night time temperatures are still mostly in the 20s.  It's not very favorable to planting just yet but perhaps in another week the cold weather plants such as cabbage and onions can be set out.  They are busting out of the containers and begging to be outside in the real world.  The first little plants I set out a couple weeks ago are surviving but just barely.  I will probably replant them and put them out of their misery.
As the weather temperatures climbed toward favorable conditions for working outside, the ground conditions were not in agreement.  After a couple of nice days and still frozen ground, my crazy pent up anxiety and made a little cabin fever from the long cold Winter months took control of my thoughts.  I just couldn't stand it any longer, so drastic actions had to be taken.  Here you see me chopping the frost filled soil out of the ground to recondition.  The process was to dig out the soil; take two five gallon buckets of soil, mix with two five gallon buckets of partially composted yard waste from last fall, one five gallon bucket of peat, a coffee can of vermiculite, a cup full of garden lime, and a couple handfuls of Epsom salts.  The mixing is done in a compost tumbler then the batch is put back into the raised bed.  Six batches later the 4X8 foot bed is done and (yea!!) no frost.  I know pretty drastic but I just couldn't help myself.

Yesterday was one of the warm days that called me to be outside working again toward the day when all things could be planted.  Two of the four beds are nearing completion for planting.  The rain collection system has been set up for the year and is ready to begin collecting rain water.  Now we need a good two inches of rain to fill the storage tank.  I'm hoping that the repairs to the tank last fall will once and for all put an end to the leaking situation.
Bed number one which the farthest away will have a rain gutter system on top of the raised bed.  More about that in another post.  Under the rain gutter system onions, cabbages, radishes, and lettuce will be planted.  It's a multilayer growing experiment.  We will have to see how that works out for this year.
The second bed will be potatoes this year.  It will also be an experimental growing project.  You can see that the bed is about eight inches below the top of the bed sides.  This bed will house four layers of potato plantings.  The first layer will be planted by laying the potatoes on top of the eight inches of soil in the bed.  Then an eight inch covering of soil and mulch will cover up the potatoes.  After these plants have a growth of 12 to 18 inches a second layer of potatoes will be laid on top of the mulch and covered with eight inches of soil and mulch.  The third and fourth layers will be planted in the same manner.  By seasons end I'm hoping to have a bed full of potatoes.  We will see.  As you can see I'm more into trying to grow things on the edge than having a bountiful harvest.
Wait there's more.  Another experiment will be planting and growing giant pumpkins from seeds given to me from one of my Maine penpals.  She sent me a handful of seeds to try at Terra Nova Gardens this year.  It requires some special treatments but the potential is for a several hundred pound pumpkin.  I don't expect any kind of record breaking growth but still even if a pumpkin reached a couple hundred pounds, it would be the talk of the neighborhood.

 You ever have one of those days when you're all set to do one thing and then stuff happens?  Not too long ago one of those days popped up in my schedule.  The sun was shining brightly, the birds were tweeting (singing not digital tweeting), the garden bed were begging to be cleaned up.  Yeah, one of those perfect top 10 Spring days.  Just one thing before going out and enjoying digging in the dirt.  Just throw a quick load in the washer.  Yeah, right.  The whole agitator seemed a bit loose when inserting the clothes.  Upon inspection the whole unit came out with a slight tug.  A bolt had come loose and the agitator would spin freely.  An agitator that don't agitate.  Now that's pretty useless don't, don't you think.  Now I could have just bolted it down tight and it probably would have worked just fine but in my experience when things fall apart and a chance is given to replace parts that could become a problem in the near future, just do it.
The above parts are the old parts that make the agitator spin.  Even though they look in fairly good shape, I did not pass the opportunity to replace them.  So this day instead of enjoying the great outdoors in the garden, I enjoyed the great indoors down in the clothes washer tub.  The operation was a success and the household has high hopes that the washer will continue to live long and prosper.
I don't want to bore any one too much so I'll leave it at that.   Spring is here .... well, sorta. Enjoy the Spring days as much as you can.
Leave a comment and let me know what's going on in your part of paradise. Until next time.


  1. Winter keeps coming back for us too, but spring is trying to get here!
    Glad you got the beds dug. Good workout digging through the frost.
    I have not put my rain barrels together yet because of the dipping temperatures. Haven't had any rain anyway so not feeling like I'm missing much yet.
    Hope you get those huge pumpkins!!!!
    I'm starting to get daffodils which is a good sign of spring and I took a little tour today to see what else is sprouting out side.
    Hope you get some more warm days soon.

  2. It sure feels good to get back outside and dig in the garden beds. Glad you were able to do so!

    I may try my hand at your potato experiment. I've got at 3' x 3' bed that's 18" high; I could get away with trying two layer of taters anyhow.

    The pumpkins sound interesting- I'll be checking back for updates! Take care.

  3. And here I thought it was springlike because it got to the low 40's yesterday. Hmmm. Must re-think that-haha.
    The potato experiment sounds interesting, just hope it isn't too hard to dig through all the layers. I always manage to "chop" a few of mine during the fall dig--and it always seems to be the biggest ones. I don't waste them though-they go directly into a soup.
    Enjoy your warmth! We're still dealing with tons of snow, but hope springs eternal that we'll soon be out enjoying spring cleanup chores.

  4. So good to see you out there enjoying the dirt! I know it's been a long time comin'! Sending Florida sunshine your way!

  5. Looking forward to seeing the progress with your raingutter planting system. I've read/seen them on the internet, but never tried one. I'm trying the earth-bucket method of planting tomatoes this year. Thanks for sharing the info and hope your Spring gardening goes well.

  6. Your potato experiment sounds very interesting. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes!

  7. Hi Dave,
    I have those days a lot, but never as exciting as your having to fix the washer. Seeing that dirt in your beds makes me want to plant it up. I've never tried growing potatoes the way you plan to. I'm doing good to get them covered enough. I know they aren't now, but I plan to hill them when they come up, assuming they will.

    Yes, I am ready for spring to be here to stay! I am tired of being cold. I am pleased that the perennials are coming up so nicely, though. You asked about my garden across the street. Things don't do well there because there is not enough sun. The neighbors to the east cut a tree down, so that may help some. I offered to pay to have the walnut tree cut down, since vegetables can't grow too close to them, but the owner of the property likes trees, and doesn't want it cut down. Still, I try, and enjoy letting some weeds grow over there, some that we eat, and others that benefit the critters.

  8. Ha ha .... liked that (singing not digital tweeting)
    Enjoyed reading this. Like that idea of layers and layers of potato.