Monday, May 25, 2009

Tomatoes are in!

Well I got the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in the ground this weekend. And much to my suprise- no hail storm so far! Yay! Well I guess we are supposed to get storms all week, but every time they say rain, we see none. It has been a very dry spring. So we shall see- no turning back now.

I also got some of the plants divvied up between my friend Sarah and my mom. Mother in law's plants are waiting until hopefully this weekend when she will be able to come get them. We've had a few casualties along the way (this week lost 1 celebrity and 1 bell pepper), but it's not the end of the world, that's why I always grow more than I need.

We have one cuke and 1 haricot verts that have germinated too. I still have to stake and cage the tomatoes before their roots get too big. Not a whole lot of excitement yet, but the hard part of gardening is done, and now it's just smooth sailing, watching everything grow and reaping the benefits. Cheers!

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Almost Too Easy

Last fall when we had our in-ground sprinkler system installed, we had them run a line with a spicket out to the garden. Today I set it up for performance- this is almost too easy, having a hose right in the garden. hehehe :D
I finished planting the garden on Tuesday, making my planting dates Monday, May 18th and Tuesday, May 19th, the two hottest days of the year. 97 degrees on Monday, somewhere in the 90's again on Tuesday. Now we're back to 60's and 70's and I'm happy. Here is a photo of one of the beds, the most interesting one at the moment (I could have posted a bunch of photos of dirt, but being that nothing has really germinated yet, I thought that would be boring haha). Note the leek trench on the left side. I piled up the soil that I removed from the trench right around it, so there is also a hill there, but this will be to gradually fill in the trench as the leeks grow, encouraging more and more growth of the white part of the stem. In this bed are 3 rows of lettuce, leeks, sugar snap peas, a dahlia in the front left, a zinnia in the back left, and a few snapdragsons (from the garden store), a marigold and 2 violas/pansies in the front right.
The tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers have been living outside full time now, and I'm considering taking down the grow light now as I don't expect them to come back inside. Here they are, lounging in the garden, only slightly sunburned in their semi-protected/filtered light spot. The weather is pretty nice and the forecast looks good so perhaps this weekend they will go in the earth!
Last but not least, here is some color for your day- the pansies I picked up at the garden store that will grace our front porch whenever I get around to potting them. Here's to happy gardening! Cheers! :D

Monday, May 18, 2009

Planting the Garden

Well the time has finally arrived. Today I spent several hours preparing the raised beds (hand tilling, fertilizing) and planting seeds and plants. Since there is a lot to do, I decided to split up the fun between two + days. So here's what I planted today for seeds:

Carrots (no signs of life from earlier planted ones)
Edamame (Envy and Shirofumi varieities)
Haricot Verts (Fin de Bagnol)
Cucumbers (Sweeter Yet)

I also transplanted a few of the flowers, including the Dahlias, Zinnias, Marigolds, and some of the violas and historic pansies. Here is my garden map for what I have planted and what I plan to plant (click to enlarge).
Tomorrow I will plant the leeks, snapdragons (that I picked up at the garden store yesterday haha), and I will have time to do some potting of some herbs, artichokes, and some left over (and some garden store bought) pansies. I also have a rose that needs pruning, and a lot of weeds to pull around the house- oh busy day. . .

The tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers slept in the garage last night and did just great, the low was 49, but I'm sure it was warmer in the garage. The flat with the flowers, artichokes and leeks slept under the stars (in preparation for the big move). The tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are transitioning to the outdoor life very well, and have stayed out all day long both yesterday and today. They will have a few more nights of coming in during the cold temps, then will be planted in the garden and the leftovers potted in preparation for their new homes with family and friends. Let's hope we don't have another hail storm this year (knock on wood!)! Here's to happy outdoor gardening in Minnesota (finally)- Cheers!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hardening Off

It's that time of year- we've reached out last frost date, and in fact we had a light frost last night. The forecast is looking good for the next week, so it's time to start digging! In preparation for this, of course, we have to transition the indoor plants to the harsh outdoor life. So we start stepwise, hardening off gradually to build their tollerance to the outdoor climate.

Well to catch up first, I went out of town last week, and when I came home, I discovered that my tomatoes had all grown about 2 inches in 5 days as their leaves became larger and they crowded each other and competed for light. They were so leggy, and viney, and had lost their crucial support system. Thus transplantation was necessary to salvage the vines. If I had been smart, I would have transplanted them 2-3 weeks ago before they started getting big. So we start with the tangled mess:
And the containers to which they were to be transplanted:
Add a little dirt, and voila- they look a little better. . .
Then the hardening off. First, for just an hour or two on a calm day with temperatures similar to those indoors. I placed them in the shade under the big tree in the back yard so as not to sunburn them:Their first day of hardening off went very well. I think the grow light set up with the fan (and not being babied in the greenhouse up until now) really helped, as they stood up to the slight temperature change, wind, and sun a lot better. Then I slowly progress them to harsher and harsher climates- here is a day or two later, temperature outside about 60 degrees, but warm and filtered sun on the deck (they stayed out for 8 hours by the end of the week):
Today I have them out in full sun in the garden beds, light breeze, 70, and sunny. They will stay out for most of the day, unless they start to wilt or get sunburned.

I plan to go to the garden store today and buy some snapdragons to replace my two failed attempts. Then tomorrow is the big day for planting seeds and transplanting some of the plants (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will probably wait a few days longer as they like warmer weather and require a little more babying with the hardening off). So far so good! Cheers!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day!

I finally had time to take some photos of the garden and the seedlings to share today. Things are really growing and it is definately spring time here in Minnesota (well it's about time). We'll start indoors, with the seedlings. Here is the grow light set up as of today:
I have done some rearranging of the seed flats to accomadate the height of certain plants (ahem, tomatoes- that's you). The tomatoes are about 5 inches tall now and have quite a few leaves. They seem to have bounced back from their setback, and once again Miracle Grow is my friend. :) hehe Just look at how much they grew in the month of April! (compare to last month's photos)
a different view:

Here are their cousins, the eggplant and peppers, along with a few flowers (left to right: rosemary, marigolds, zinnias, serrano and big early bell peppers, chilly chili peppers, um, one cell of thyme, and the prosperosa eggplants):

Here is the other half of that flat (with some overlap), the amber kiss violas (2 rows), historical mix pansies, rosemary, marigolds, and zinnias):

Moving outside into the garden now, here is the raised bed garden from today:

The (I think) tulips and daphodils that never made it last year (hail storm), looks like they're doing alright this year. We'll see what they are once they bloom, haha:

My lettuce is coming along pretty nicely. There are 3 varieties- mix, green and red leaf lettuce, only two of which are shown here:

And the garden superstars (at least right now), the chives- these are huge, over a foot tall:

Now leaving the raised bed garden, here is my hybrid tea rose that is starting to green up- suprisingly hardy for its kind. It has handled 2 really long, cold winters, a hail storm, 2 transplantations, and tons of abuse in the past 3 years and it keeps coming back for more!

Even the man garden is doing well (this is Bjorn's garden- full of natural prairie type plants- grasses, fescue, sedum, salvia, and sage):

And moving on to the front of the house, here is our front garden which we just planted last fall. You can see the peegee hydrangea tree's trunk (not doing anything yet), coral bells, yew in the back, dwarf spireas, salvia, and some other pretty stuff that I don't know. I just hope it all comes back (there were also some hostas and astilbe there, but they're late in rising, so we'll see if they grow- this is more of a shaded garden being on the north side of the house):

And finally, last but not least, my favorite photo of the day. These beautiful hydrangea flowers are still on the branches from last fall. They are so gorgeous and intricate, you can't help but love them!

Well that's about it for the photo tour. The last of the seeds (for the pre-last frost round) have been started either indoors or out and everything seems to be doing pretty well, despite the scare we had with mold (which seems to be harmless) on the seedling cells. All of the trees have buds, the grass is lush and the bunny rabbits are out in full force. It it looking like a beautiful, but late, spring here in Minnesota, with last frost only 2 weeks away for these happy gardeners. Cheers!