Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peppers: A Growing Guide: Organic Gardening

This was such a good overall article that I am sharing it here. I have 5-6 kinds of peppers out in the garden and hope to be eating a lot this year. Peppers: A Growing Guide: Organic Gardening
 veg_pepper4This companion piece on the pepper support is interesting as well.

Monday, March 28, 2011

March is here--what to do II?

 In the ever expanding garden spaces, I continue to move plants from the greenhouse to the land. The land that is filling up fast. The self-watering boxes are taking off and the peppers look fantastic. I converted all the pots of peppers that wintered over to double buckets and most of them are set up for self-watering. I re-potted most of the peppers but a few were putting on blooms so were left alone. 

Almost all the tomatoes are in the ground and are already double in size and growing well. 

One of the Celebrity tomatoes I bought has a blossom on it! The potato leaf heirlooms are looking good and may actually do something this year. Speaking of potatoes, although they were attacked by something that cut the tops off at the soil line, I put on large plastic collars and they are thriving. The ones in the tub are much larger than the ones along the fence. I only put in 10 seed potatoes this year but they are Yukon golds which we really like. I did plant a few shoots this weekend that were growing from store potatoes in the holes. We'll see if anything comes of them. I put down paper mulch between the rows of bush green beans--tried something new: shred office and newspaper, wet it good and fill the row with it, put on a lattice board to keep it in place.
 I found a folding screen in the trash last week and it will be the frame for the pole beans and cucumbers to grow on. They are in the new triangle raised bed. soil may not be deep enough but the beans have always seemed to have shallow roots and I'll add more compost and mulch as the plants get their heads up.  Put out the pickle cucumber seedlings and added a short row of okra next to them. Have the wando peas in 3 rows--supposed to tolerate the heat and NZ spinach on the other side of the bed--definitely does heat if it is watered. May want to find a way to mulch better before the plants get so thick this year. Some seem to be coming up from seed too  I hope to move a few around to the front beds to use as an edible border.
 I have 2 sections of the garden to rework a bit--one by the fence that is too heavy and gets a bit of shade and the other is against the shed that gets blistering sun but the soil is not so great there. Maybe this is the place for the eggplant that are really very small yet. Another  bag of the organic garden soil is in the future here and some peat and compost for the first spot, I think. 

The gardens out in front are a combination of flowering plants, shade loving plants (under the canopy of the tree right), and veggies. I put in red cabbage, rainbow chard, red cherry peppers, ornamental peppers, beets with red tops, purple basil, oregano, and an edible border of parsley and dill so far. The geraniums, begonias, and vincas are thriving and most of the perennials are coming up to be identified. The white irises are blooming here and there but the new multi-colored ones are probably not going to bloom this year. I moved some of the  liriope around and put in some of the hostas and nasturtiums. I also added 30 caladium bulbs that I sprouted in the greenhouse. They are a nice mix of multi-colored ones. I have lots of coleus that I propagated and am putting into the shady locations to add punch of color.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bees, Bees, Bees!!

I was all ready to trim my holly bush way back as it is huge and is shading some new plantings but when I went out today to look at it, it is just full of honey bees. Whatever boom is there is so fragrant and there must  be 100s of  bees in the bush. 

So I'll wait a couple of weeks until it is done blooming and then trim it back. I do not remember it blooming longer than that in the spring. It is so nice to see all those bees.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Using software to plan the plantings

I have been trying out some of the limited time free software on the web to plan where different plants are going in the vegetable bed. I tried this on paper last year and soon lost interest. The place I tried out is It has been easy to use and required almost no helps to get the areas set up and plants put onto the screen. I did have to measure all my beds and they are a bit smaller than I thought. It does not allow for intensive spacing so I just used areas to cover where multiple plants are.
I have also been using the site to log every planting and its progress and really appreciate the ease of use of that one and the information within the site. I have quite a few plants and have raised almost all of them from seed. It is my hope that keeping detailed logs this year will give us a better idea what is working and what to avoid or change. Keeping track of the variety on the peppers and tomatoes should help too. I already decided that  the carrots grown in tubs could be much longer than the ones in the ground. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March is here--what to do?

The garden guild meeting was very informative on revving up our gardens and landscapes and thereby decreasing or eliminating our pest problems. Richard had a few books and websites to recommend and gave away PRIZES!  I am looking forward to using the Orange oil in the garden as it smells good and will deter pests. We also had a lively discussion on aphids. Do we squish them or squirt them or what? Also talked about ladybugs as the predator for aphids and how ants herd them.  
PhotoFound out the snails I have that go nuts every spring are called Decollate Snails.  They were imported for the purpose of controlling brown garden snails.  They track them down and eat them! (slugs, too) If you are getting too many, hand pick them and move them away but you may suddenly have lots of other snails, slugs, and pill bugs to contend with. The like to hide under decomposing debris so getting the leaves out of the garden last year helped a lot. They also do not seem to be attracted to well established plants but do feast on new transplants so they need plastic collars (the plants not the snails!)
We are continuing to till the new beds and bring in more compost to spiff them up. The soil looks really good but is not taking moisture too well so I am thinking enough compost and need a bit more of the vermiculite and peat moss in them. We put out the geraniums that wintered over in the sunroom along with some vincas and the begonias this week. I split up one of the blue salvias as it has many babies and spread it around. Several others are popping up so we'll get them spread out too in the next couple of weeks. I saw a bud on one of the irises that I transplanted last fall so spring must be coming fast. 
The vegetable beds look wonderful and full with lots of lettuce, chard, beets, onions, and peas. About half of the potato starts survived the freeze and seem to be thriving. The carrots are popping up too and I transplanted 6 of the tomato plants to a big bed. I used bagged organic garden soil mixed with some of last year's potting soil for their pots and the plants seem to have loved it---great root systems. I tried something new and put a layer of vermiculite in the bottom of the pot so I could bottom water them only and have not had one damp off. Must be a good plan. 

Last addition to the ever expanding space is the orange homemade earth boxes. I am trying this for the peppers to see if this will keep them more evenly moist. I have 2 done and 1 more to go plus a few double buckets to use in the same way. I am also trying out the colored mulches this year--red plastic and silver foil to see if there is anything in this.