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May 26th, 2011

Delinquent blogger, busy gardener

Hello. It’s been as while. Please forgive my absence from this blog. I’ve had a lot going on lately. We had a baby last month and I was home for a few weeks helping around the house. I am extremely thankful for the generous paternity leave Rodale gave me. It made such a huge difference to my family and me. Besides being around to help with the new baby, I was also lucky enough to get to spend an unprecedented amount of time with my almost-3 year old daughter. Together, we spent a lot of time working and playing in the garden.

I’ll give you a quick tour:

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You can see the pea trellis in the foreground and the bean teepee in the background. In a few months that teepee will be a cool and shady hideout for my daughter.

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The zucchini we started indoors finally made it’s way to the garden. This is our first blossom. Fresh zucchini is right around the corner.

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And our potatoes are starting to push through the straw mulch.

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This is what I call strategic volunteer cilantro. After last year’s plants went to seed, I broadcast the seeds along the fence on the southwest corner of the garden. It should make a nice herb border that attracts lots of beneficial insects.

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We also planted four rows of corn and two rows of bush beans on the east side of the garden. I tried the three sisters here last year, but the squash bugs were terrible and they seemed to have their way with my corn too. So I’m not planting any winter squash this year.

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And finally, here are the turnips I planted last September, gone to seed. The turnip roots were awesome in the late fall, and the turnip greens were tasty in early spring. It’s amazing what will survive over the winter with a good layer of mulch.

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April 18th, 2011

inside and outside

The garden at our house is moving along nicely on two fronts: indoor and outside.

You know about the peas, but we also planted spinach and radicchio by seed. The spinach looks good, but the radicchio is taking its time. I planted them together in one of the 2 x 8 raised beds in sort of a diagonal stripes.

turnip greens

turnip greens

We went up to the cold crop sale at the Rodale Institute last week and got some broccoli and arugula seedlings and a bag of onion sets. I put the onions in a few different beds, a row here, a row there, sort of out of the way along the back edges and outside corners of some of the bigger raised beds. I put the broccoli in the bed where I overwintered turnips and collards. (Wondering now if that’s a brassica overload; perhaps some crop rotation was in order. Live and learn.) We’ve been eating lots of turnip greens lately. Last October I planted about 40 bulbs of garlic in the other 2×8 bed. This all sounds like a lot of work, but my raised beds were ready to plant because I kept them heavily mulched all winter. The soil looks great, full of worms, ready for a productive season.

Inside, everything I planted a few weeks ago is up—except the marigolds. I’m wondering if my seeds were bad, or if they’re the kind of seed that needs darkness to germinate. I’ve left the fluorescent light on 24/7 since I planted the seeds. The rest of the seedlings seem to like it.

seedling-helper

The secret to growing seedlings is finding good help

And this past weekend, Iris and I planted tomato seeds. OG senior editor Doug gave me some of the seeds that he’s trialing in the test garden. I’m stating 4 varieties: Velvet Red, Black Icicle, Italian Heirloom, and Henderson’s Winsall.

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soil+seed+water+light+love=tomatoes

This is random, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the correlation between having kids and growing a garden. As new parents or new gardeners you have no idea what to expect. You worry a lot about the “right” way to do things and it can be stressful to say the least. But I’ve noticed, as my wife and I are getting very close to having our second child, that things are a little less stressful. Not that it’s not incredibly exciting; it’s just exciting in a whole new way. More on that later.

My seed potatoes shipped today. I should have them in time to plant them on Good Friday. Going for the mulch method this year. I had them in the ground a lot earlier last year.

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April 4th, 2011

Feeling like a gardener again

OK, I admit that this is the first year I’ve ever tried starting my own seeds. I even made my own little newspaper pots. Iris and I had a good time filling them with the seed starting mix. Anytime you get to play with a bucket of dirt at the kitchen table is a good time, whether you’re a toddler or a dad.

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We planted seeds and set them up under a low hanging fluorescent light in the basement.  We planted basil, parsley, zinnia, squash, and marigolds. And now to keep them moist and wait.

I’m worried that maybe I should have filled the pots to the brim with potting mix, but as with most things in my life as a gardener, it’s a learning process.

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Iris and I planted our pre-sprouted peas yesterday. She was more interested in filling up her bucket with water and letting some of her worms go for a swim, but we managed to plant 3 different varieties. I planted spinach and radicchio during her nap time.

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January 21st, 2011

A Gardener’s Optimism

It’s just about the dead middle of winter. I’ve been paging through seed catalogs, dreaming about planting peas, wondering how I’ll do my potatoes this year.

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My Garden in January

But here’s the thing: We’re looking to buy a house, my wife and I. We have a daughter who’s 2 and half, and we’re expecting a baby in May. Our house, however nicely situated in the world with its privacy and open space, is about to get too small, and it’s already too expensive to heat.

So my where does this leave my garden? Do I start seeds, do I prepare myself mentally for the spring, knowing full well that we might move and leave it all behind?

Yes. Of course I do. I’ll order my seeds. I’ll start them in the basement. I’ll plant my peas on St. Patty’s Day, I’ll plant my taters on Good Friday (actually, I just looked at the calendar and Good Friday is really late this year, so I’ll get the taters in sooner), and I’ll get things ready the way I always do. It’s part of who I am. I garden.

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May 12th, 2010

Mrs. D's Garden…continued

This past Monday, on my way to work, I stopped in to see my gardening friend, Mrs. D. As I’ve stated somewhere earlier in this blog, her garden is simply the best garden in the area. A visit with Mrs. D is always educational and inspirational. She said things are sort of in between right now, but that in a few weeks there’ll be some more color.

Her peas are what’s happening right now. Check out how she uses an old piece of chicken wire fence to support them. When the peas are done, she just rolls up the fence and puts it back in the shed.

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I’ll be checking back in a few weeks to see how things are progressing.

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