Spring is Coming – Part 2

Ah spring. The time for projects. I love projects. I love improving our spread as I enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. We also enjoy gardening. As an extension about 17 years ago we built a 12 x 16 foot greenhouse. Within this greenhouse we can initiate an early start to spring by giving our plants an environment where they can grow as if it was June.

One of the favorite ways to provide this head start is to purchase the items we want in our window boxes early and insert them in the window boxes 7-9 weeks ahead of the last frost date when we can actually bring the window boxes out to enjoy. Allowing the plants to grow their roots with this head start means when we bring them out in May they are healthy and thriving.

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You may not think these are growing that much, but if you click Spring is Coming Part 1 you will see there has been some definite growth.

One of our challenges where we live is that I have acres of  farm land on three sides of my property. This is a great thing for many reasons. But one negative is that the wild life is thick and willing to come and take as they please. We have battled rabbits and groundhogs for years as we attempt to raise a garden. Up until the last few years we have been able to win this epic struggle. But lately the critters are the only ones getting fat on our vegetables.

After the success of our new raised bed where we grew tomatoes we decided to expand our alternative growing method with a long raised bed to house our bush beans. Long ago we introduced our family to a type of bush bean called Tenderettes. After nearly two decades of enjoyment my family truly prefers the ones we grow and can. But if you cannot control the rodents there is nothing to enjoy.  Enter the new raised bed.

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Now I will share the complicating factor. As life goes there can be situations that make you rethink your plans. After hauling two loads of ground compost to half fill our raised bed I ran into issues with my truck. Now I am scrambling to work out an alternative way. Thankfully we are up to four weeks away from the safe time as far as last frost before we can plant so I have considerable wiggle room.

You can see there is a black landscape fabric flanking this bed. While I am working out the alternative method to fill the long raised bed I will be using one of my favorite tools, my Kubota tractor to dump wood chips on the fabric to eliminate the need to cut the grass that would grow up around the bed. By taking this out of the equation I don’t have to be concerned about cut grass drifting into the bed and starting weeds.

Another alternative vegetable growing plan we have in progress actually came from a video we enjoyed courtesy of Facebook. We like to grow and enjoy potatoes. Specifically we enjoy the small or “new” potatoes. Aren’t all potatoes new you ask? Well yes, but what I mean is young potatoes with a very thin skin. Basically the idea is to take a pot and cut four openings in it. Then you slip it inside another pot of the same size, fill to about 1/3 depth, place seed potatoes in the soil, cover the seed potatoes, water and let them grow. Then as the green shoots of the potatoes grow you cover them repeatedly until you have filled the pot. After three months you lift the pot with the sections cut out and harvest your crop. I made pictures as I created this for your enjoyment.

For the past few years we have selected a specific type of potting soil sold by Miracle Grow. We learned almost a decade and a half ago how important it is to have a base soli for new plants that does not pack down like the garden soil at our home. Tender roots respond so much better to this loose mix. The particular type we choose to employ is called Moisture Control. The selling point is that it is designed to keep the moisture content as close to optimal as possible. Of course that does not mean you can avoid watering, but that if you water frequently the soil will help maximize the effectiveness.

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We have several plantings of daffodils and tulips in our yard that are perennial disappointments. Apparently they are not hardy enough to withstand the wildly varying ups and downs of temperatures here in the mountains of Southwestern end of Virginia. As a result we ordered a new batch of supposedly “hardier” daffodils and tulips and dug out a new bed for them. The daffodils are pictures in Spring is Coming Part 1 and now the tulips are showing their colors.

 

My last addition to this post is in the form of photos of some trees I grafted during a county extension service class last week. At my home place, meaning where I grew up, their is this 4o year old “Early Harvest” apple tree. It is a yellow apple that is ripe at the first of July and cooks down into almost an apple sauce. I have wanted to graft some scions off of it for years and finally accomplished the first part of the process during this class. In all I grafted seven trees: four of the Early Harvest, a Rambo, a Gala and a Cortland. I won’t know for a little bit if any or all of them will successfully graft, but check back here for updates.

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As I said in the beginning of this post I love projects. Even now as I realize the completion of some projects even more are dotting my radar. This past Saturday I enjoyed a day in which the Fitbit strapped to my arm recorded 28,636 steps. Five days a week I am held down to a chair by my job as a computer software tester, so when I get a chance to head outside I always have a plan in mind. I hope you will be looking for Spring is Coming part 3 where I will update you on all these activities and maybe some new ones.

 

 

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