New weather station for the garden

For an early Father’s Day present I received a new weather station. This makes the third weather station I have had in the garden.  The latest edition is the Ambient Weather WiFi Osprey WS-2902A.

For information about the two previous weather stations (WS 2080 and WS 1400-IP), you can read about them here.

There were two main reasons for upgrading.  First was that the rain sensor had failed to properly record rainfall for over a year.  The second was that the size and weight of the WS 1400 was pulling over the fence post resulting in the garden fence becoming loose and sagging.  The new weather station is more aerodynamic and will hopefully be more stable in strong winds.

The new weather station has arrived

The new weather station has arrived

Assembled weather station

Assembled weather station

Since the garden post has already started to lean, I decided that it was time to install a more stable mounting solution. Nothing real fancy here. Just a 6 ft 4×4 post with a 5 ft 1 in metal pipe.

New mounting pole

New mounting pole

Digging a hole

Digging a hole

New mounting pole braced and ready for concrete

New mounting pole braced and ready for concrete

Waiting for the water to be absorbed into the Quickrete

Waiting for the water to be absorbed into the Quickrete

New weather station ready for operation

New weather station ready for operation

The station has been up for almost a week now and seems to be operating as expected. We have had a couple decent rains so far and the amount of rain being reported has matched that of the simple plastic rain gauge also in the garden.

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Spring planting for 2018

Over the last two weekends I was able to get all but one vegetable planted in the garden.

First off though, is this years diagram of the planting plan.  Nothing too radical this year, pretty much most of the same from past years just rotated so I don’t have things in the same spots.

Garden plan for 2018

Garden plan for 2018

The first weekend (May 5/6) was a bit rushed because I had to first get the second garden bed replaced.  I also had to move the lettuce from the back two beds to the second replacement bed.  All of that took a while. In the end, I had time to get the peas and radish planted and get the tomatoes out of their tiny pots and into the ground where they can have all the root and head room they could wish for.

In the years past, I never provided the peas and beans anything other than water and occasional fertilizer.  This year I am giving an inoculant a try.  When ordering seeds this year I threw Burpee Booster into the cart.  We’ll see if I notice any difference.

Giving the beans and peas a boost

Giving the beans and peas a boost

All six tomato plants with ladders

All six tomato plants with ladders

Two Brandy Boy tomatoes

Two Brandy Boy tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Cherry Baby tomatoes

Pea tower with a few left over lettuce plants I did not move

Pea tower with a few left over lettuce plants I did not move

Transplanted lettuce and bean tower

Transplanted lettuce and bean tower

For the second weekend (May 12/13), the goal was to get the rest of the garden planted. The weather forecast looked like this.

Not a good forecast for planting

Not a good forecast for planting

As a result, I was up and in the garden before 8 am in an effort to get as much planted as I could before the rain arrived.  I’m happy to report I was able to get the garden planted.  In fact, it didn’t actually rain until Monday afternoon.  I had time to go to Lowes and get some sweet potato plants and get them in as well on Saturday. Between the vegetable garden and other needed yard work, we ended up being out until dark.  I was beginning to wish for the promised rain so I could be chased inside.  🙂

So, what all was planted this weekend…

  • Sweet corn
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Green Beans – Pole
  • Green Bean – Bush
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes
Twelve sweet potato plants

Twelve sweet potato plants

All that remain are the onions. I’m still waiting on Burpee to process that portion of my order. I am tempted to just cancel the onions and try and find some locally.

Out with the old. In with the new.

After 12 years, it is finally time to start replacing the original raised garden beds. I’m starting off this spring by replacing two of the original four beds with a plan of replacing the remaining two this fall.  The two beds added six years ago are holding up quite well and I decided to construct these replacements the same way.  I bought enough 12 inch raised bed corners from Gardener’s Supply to build two new beds.  After that, I needed to get 12 cedar boards for the sides.  I picked up these 2 x 6 x 8’s from Menards.

Enough cedar boards for two beds

Enough cedar boards for two beds

I used 8 of them for the long sides and cut the remaining 4 in half to form the shorter, 4 ft ends for both beds.

Cutting the 8 ft boards in half to make the ends

Cutting the 8 ft boards in half to make the ends

I found I could save a bit of money by buying the 12 inch corners but continue to use the 6 inch lumber. The corners hold both boards just fine and I drilled two extra holes and added two more screws.

12 in corners with just two pre-drilled holes

12 in corners with just two pre-drilled holes

Two more holes and screws for good measure

Two more holes and screws for good measure

Continuing assembly

Continuing assembly

Completed bed awaiting its new home

Completed bed awaiting its new home

Digging out the inside perimeter

Digging out the inside perimeter

It turns out, building the new bed was the easy part. Removing the old beds was a bit of a back breaker. The 4 x 4 cedar posts  and sides were pretty easy to remove as they have been there for some time and the bottoms were mostly rotten. The 2 x 2 pressure treated support posts I drove in over the years to help hold the bed together were another matter all together. After a lot of digging and prying with a shovel I managed to finally get them all out or broken off below the soil line. After a week of resting my back, I tackled the second bed. The second bed being replaced was not going to be so easy. That bed had four repaired posts secured with some Quickrete and the 2 x 2 support posts screwed into the 4 x 4. If I was going to build this style of bed again, this is how I would have done it. For this task, I borrowed my neighbors spud bar and while my back didn’t hurt any less than the first bed, it did make the job possible without breaking my shovel.

Original garden bed completely removed

Original garden bed completely removed

New bed maneuvered into place

New bed maneuvered into place

Remains of the old garden bed

Remains of the old garden bed

New bed with soil returned

New bed with soil returned

Rinse and repeat. Do it all over again on the second bed.

Rinse and repeat. Do it all over again on the second bed.

Both completed beds

Both completed beds

Now… let’s hope that these new beds last at LEAST another 12 years.

Freeze Warnings and Frost Advisories

This year we are being reminded why the safe planting date isn’t until a week or two into May. Last night we had a Freeze Warning where the temperatures reached a low of 30 degrees. Tonight we have a frost advisory with temperatures expect in the mid 30s.

All the tomato plants outside in the small plastic greenhouse have survived so far.  Looking at the forecast seems to indicate that this might have been the last of the cold weather.

Tomatoes surviving the cold nights

Tomatoes surviving the cold nights

Two other items of note. I stopped back at Walmart and pick up some more cheap 6″ pots for the remaining plants.  It makes it easier to distribute them around the shelves and seems to help reduce the moisture loss from the disposable pots.

Also, if you look at the bottom of the shelves you’ll see an old brake rotor from the minivan.  I was worried the whole thing might blow over in the wind and thought that some weight in the bottom might help hold it in place.

Tomatoes are as bad as the kids

Tomatoes are as bad as the kids… constantly out growing their clothes and needing more room.  It isn’t quite the same with tomatoes I guess, but these have certainly grown bigger than the space I have for them in the basement.

Tomatoes growing up through the lights

Tomatoes growing up through the lights

I decided to finally bust out the growing shelf/mini greenhouse I bought from a friend a number of years ago. It has been sitting in pieces on a garage shelf ever since buying it. Today it gets put to use.

Tomatoes new home

Tomatoes new home

Vegetable shelf on the deck by the back door

Vegetable shelf on the deck by the back door

We’ve still had quite cold temperatures and it has unfortunately still been common to see snow. This morning there was frost. The weather forecast for 10 days is showing two days in the upper 30s and highs in the 50s and 60s. I’m hoping this little greenhouse will provide enough heat to get them through these cold nights.

Door closed and hopefully going to hold the heat in and cold out

Door closed and hopefully going to hold the heat in and cold out

Finally some time in the garden

And by some time, I mean just 3 measly hours Saturday morning before the rain moved in.  The weather was finally nice for a few days, Thursday through Saturday around noon.  I spent the first two at work and softball games and was determined to get out in to the garden before the rain came in on Saturday.  It would have been nice to have had more time, but what I got was still welcome.

Another year of winter damage to the old garden beds

Another year of winter damage to the old garden beds

Dig out the sides and brace them with 2x2 spikes

Dig out the sides and brace them with 2×2 spikes

More digging

More digging

More aligning

More aligning

In addition to doing some garden repairs, I also planted my lettuce and one spinach seedlings in the garden. They were happy for the new beds on with the weather in the mid 60s on Sunday and tolerated the rainy 50 degree day on Sunday. I’m not so sure they are happy with the 33 degrees and snow today however. I know this is Ohio, but come on, enough with the lingering crappy weather.

Lettuce plants

Lettuce plants

Some more lettuce plants

Some more lettuce plants

Rushed this post a bit as I wont have any time of the next few days to work on it. Hope it isn’t too bad.

Time to move into a bigger place

The seedlings were feeling a little cramped in their current digs and needed a place where they could spread their roots and grow.  I picked up some 5″ pots at Lowes for the tomatoes and some smaller 3″ pots for some of the lettuce.  With the weather staying decidedly on the ‘sucky’ side (we still had enough snow to cover the ground this weekend), I am afraid that these tomatoes will need to hang out in the house for at least another 3 weeks but much more likely 4 or 5.  Note to future self, start the tomatoes a bit later next year.

Crowded tenants looking longingly towards their spacious new homes

Crowded tenants looking longingly towards their spacious new homes

Still smarting from the year I neglected to label the pots. It was very hard to tell the tomatoes apart that year until there were tomatoes for the picking

Still smarting from the year I neglected to label the pots. It was very hard to tell the tomatoes apart that year until there were tomatoes for the picking

Quite a diverse bunch

Quite a diverse bunch

The plants around the outside of the seed tray all grew much larger and faster than the poor plants in the center. Now that they are separated with a bit more room, I am hoping the slow pokes and play a little catch-up.

Next I need to fix the head room issue

Next I need to fix the head room issue

Unfortunately, giving the tomatoes more root space results in less room under the lights for all the plants. The majority of the lettuce, and lone spinach, will be getting a taste of the outsides for a bit. I’m hoping to get these guys planted into the garden next weekend. Until then, they get a night inside as the low will again dip down to 29 degrees and then back to the deck for hopefully the rest of the week.

More root space means less plant space

More root space means less plant space