Freeze Warning

Here is the cost of planting early. A freeze Warning has been issued for tonight with forecasted lows of 32 degrees. As a result, the garden looks like a shanty town with makeshift tents made of old sheets and buckets.

Ghostly garden

Ghostly garden

Reuse before recycling

Reuse before recycling

Garden all tucked in for the night

Garden all tucked in for the night. Sleep warm.

Easter planting of radish, lettuce, peas and … tomatoes?

The weather recently is more like late May than middle of April. With temperatures over 80 degrees yesterday (record high temperature) and upper 70s today, you couldn’t ask for better weather on Easter weekend. Saturday I spent some time tilling up the garden beds. I’ve been neglecting the soil for a while now and in the years past I haven’t had a lot of time to spend in the garden when it was dry before jumping straight into planting. With the weather being so warm this year, I really didn’t have any excuses. I picked up 10 bags of Sta-Green Garden Soil from Lowes and worked two bags into the five beds that haven’t already had something planted.  By the end of the day, those beds looked pretty good and ready for planting.

10 bags of Sta-Green Garden Soil

10 bags of Sta-Green Garden Soil

Two bags of Sta-Green Garden Soil tilled into the bed.

Two bags of Sta-Green Garden Soil tilled into the bed.

Five beds tilled up and ready for planting

Five beds tilled up and ready for planting

So, my seedlings have not been looking good since I transplanted them into the bigger pots. I tried more water. I tried less water. I moved them outside to the deck where they could get some fresh air and real sun. Nothing I did seemed to help.

A tray of not so great looking tomatoes

A tray of not so great looking tomatoes

Yellow and sickly looking seedlings

Yellow and sickly looking seedlings

What to try next?  Well, with the warm weather we have been having I figured what the heck, let’s just plant them in the garden and see if that helps. So today, Easter Sunday, I decided to go ahead and plant half of the tomato seedlings.  I’ll try and nurse the remaining inside as a backup should a freeze or frost still happen this spring.

Before I get too far ahead of myself though, I needed to update the new garden planting plan for 2017.  Below is my plan for this year.

Garden planting plan for 2017

Garden planting plan for 2017

Today I planted two plants of each of the three tomato varieties, Brandy Boy Hybrid, Oh Happy Day Hybrid, and Cherry Baby Hybrid.  In addition to the tomatoes, I also planted some more seasonally appropriate vegetables.  I planted the Sugar Snap Peas, Radish and more lettuce.

Peas planted and ready to grow

Peas planted and ready to grow

Little tomatoes planted a little too early

Little tomatoes planted a little too early

May not recover from this

The most recent storm that came through last night didn’t seem as bad to me, but the sweet corn seemed to experience it a bit differently. After the earlier storm, it was leaning. This is almost knocked flat. I am not sure this is recoverable.

Corn knocked flat

Corn knocked flat

I spent some time installing some additional string between the posts. I tried to pull up some of the corn and get it up as best I could. I am afraid it won’t be good enough. At least one of the stalks was thinking about shooting up a tassel, so the time remaining to get reestablished is running short. The picture below is where I left off.  Still quite a mess.

After some more string and some careful proping

After some more string and some careful propping

I’ll let it go and see what happens. Maybe something will still come of it. One thing for sure, I can see now that I planted way too dense. Next year I think I need to knock out about 15-20% of the plants and see if that helps.  Always learning.

Big storm

We had a pretty big storm come through early yesterday morning.  Between the two rain gauges, the garden received somewhere between 3.34 and 3.75 inches of rain in just a couple hours.   The weather station reported the lower number and as can be seen in the image below, the low-tech plastic gauge had the higher value.

Lots-o-rain

Lots-o-rain

Even though the winds didn’t seem too bad, the Sweet Corn around the outside of the bed didn’t enjoy the event.

Leaning corn

Leaning corn

I attempted to ‘fence’ in the wayward stalks in the hopes that they can right themselves in the coming weeks before it is time to start producing some ears.

Corn support fence

Corn support fence

 

Happy Father’s Day

For Father’s Day this year, my loving wife got me a new weather station. Ever since the last one stopped talking to the computer, I’ve been operating with a little less data than the last few years.  The old system (Ambient Weather WS-2080) had a few too many hops to get the data from the sensors in the garden up to the internet.  Sensors collect the data and transmit them wirelessly to the console in the house.  Console then connects to a Raspberry Pi which periodically pulls the collected data off.  The software on the Pi then formats the data and sends it up to Weather Underground as well as my own local web server.  The part where the Raspberry Pi pulls the data from the Weather Station Console has been broken for a few months now and nothing I have been able to do has corrected the issue.

Enter the brand new Ambient Weather WS 1400-IP.  The beauty of this design is that it drops out the middle man.  As much as I love pie, the Raspberry Pi and the full up PC before it, was the weak link in the operation.  Actually, both of those computers and the software they were running were fine, the interface to the Weather Station console was a bit flaky.  Either way, that middle component is not necessary with this new station.  The new data flow is that the sensors in the garden collect the data and wirelessly transmit it to a small and easy to hide receiver (selling point with the wife).  This received is connected up to the home network and directly sends the data up to Weather Underground.  Only thing that this does not do is create a local weather page of the data.  With some custom software, I think I could get that working as well, but have not decided if it is worth it or not.

Another neat thing about this new station is that it uses rechargeable batteries in the sensor station and they are recharged by the solar panel mounted on the front.  It also has a sensor to collect sunlight information such as solar energy and UV data.  Not real sure what I am going to do with that information, but cool to look at nonetheless.

Now, let’s hope the rain lets up a bit around these parts.  I’d like to get a rain or two to test the rain gauge, but I’d be more than happy if it waited a few days first.  Looking at the yard, it seems we are growing more mushrooms than grass.

New Weather Station!

New Weather Station!

Old system on the left.  New system on the right.

Old system on the left. New system on the right.

New Weather Station overlooking the garden.

New Weather Station overlooking the garden.

Lift off!

With a week of nice and warm (almost hot) weather, the seeds planted last weekend have almost all emerged. Okay, to be honest, not ALL seeds have emerged, but at least a couple from each vegetable planted.  Forecast shows some rain expected over the weekend an decently warm weather continuing.  So far, off to a good start in the garden this year.

Bush green beans muscling their way to the surface

Bush green beans muscling their way to the surface

Zucchini trying to sneak out

Zucchini trying to sneak out

First cucumber spreading its leaves

First cucumber spreading its leaves

Pole bean fully out of the ground

Pole bean fully out of the ground

Fuzzy leaves of the yellow squash

Fuzzy leaves of the yellow squash

Hard to believe that this little sunflower will grow to over 10 feet tall

Hard to believe that this little sunflower will grow to over 10 feet tall

 

Time to dust off the blog and start planning and planting

Yawn, I guess it is time to wake up from the lazy winter slumber and start getting ready for the 2015 gardening season.

We have had another cold and snowy winter here in the garden. Just like last year, we again had more than the normal below zero temperatures and above average snowfall. Below are a couple shots of the house after one of the heavier storms. No pictures of the cold. Cold is just cold and not very photogenic.

Plenty of snow in the front of the house

Plenty of snow in the front of the house

Plenty of snow in the back of the house.

Plenty of snow in the back of the house.

 

In the past week, almost all of the snow has finally melted and revealed the soggy, sloppy mess underneath. I was brave enough to venture through the backyard to get the first visit to the garden of 2015. I didn’t hang around too long as even the graveled walkways were spongy and soft. Aside from being very wet, the garden seemed to hold up pretty well this winter. I am hoping that I can get a year off from making bed repairs.

Finally the snow is gone

Finally the snow is gone

Another view of the soggy garden along with the rotting brussel sprout plants from last year

Another view of the soggy garden along with the rotting Brussels sprout plants from last year

With the snow melting and the temperatures warming, it was time to place the seed order for this year. A lot of repeats but there are a few new replacements. In particular, I am trying a whole new set of tomato varieties. Below is a picture showing the array of seed packets that have arrived so far.

This years seed purchase

This years seed purchase

 

With the seeds in hand and the calendar indicating that it is now about 7-8 weeks from the frost date here, I set out to get my new tomato seeds started. I am re-using the seed starting kit purchased last year from Burpee but this time around I am not bothering with those little compressed plugs and just using regular seed starting soil. The weather was so nice today, 55 degrees, that I even did the beginning messy steps outside on the deck. You know it has been a cold winter when you can be outside and happy in a short sleeve t-shirt at 55 degrees. 😉

Time to start planting some seeds

Time to start planting some seeds

Thirty two cells full of new soil and no waiting.  Step right up, who wants to be first.

Thirty two cells full of new soil and no waiting. Step right up, who wants to be first.

I don’t need 36 tomato plants. In the end, I ended up just planting two columns (8 cells) of each of the three varieties. In reality, I don’t need 24 either. I really only need about 8 plants total. So, if these guys take off and do well, I will be looking to find the extras a good home.

 

Planted, watered and fed.

Planted, watered and fed.

What? You don’t feed your tomatoes with Hershey’s Triple Layer Chocolate Hot Fudge cake mix when you plant the seeds? It is the secret to sweet tomatoes. 🙂

New home for the next couple months.

New home for the next couple months.

Now that the tomatoes are all planted, they have all been moved to their new home in the basement. I was a bit skeptical that it would work out but last year they seemed to do pretty well. One improvement that I am planning is to get a second light which will cover the full depth of the seed tray.  Last year, once the plants got started, they kept leaning back and forth to try and get to the light.

Getting an earlier start and hopefully a warmer spring and I (along with family, coworkers and neighbors) should be enjoying some fresh tomatoes in 4-5 months.