Summer Gardening

Baby butternut squash

This morning, I spent three hours weeding my garden plot. I also pulled up all the peas, spread compost, replanted pole beans (Kentucky Wonder) in their place and made a bean trellis. I also planted rainbow carrots, nasturtium and bush beans (Tendergreen). The bush beans were planted close to the asparagus. I noticed that most of my potatoes did not grow (only a handful of plants came up), so I filled the gap with bush beans. There is still some space between the beans and the potatoes, which I likely will fill with salad greens. I moved the pepper plant because it was shaded by the cucumber foliage. I sprinkled Epsom salt around my tomatoes and gave everything a good thorough watering.

Cucumber flowers

The garlic has started to yellow. I will probably pull it in a week or two and need to think what I will plant in its space, part of it is occupied by the butternut squash vine, which is taking over much of the plot. The dahlias are coming up – I saw the first flower buds today.

More Dahlias

Yesterday, when I cleaned out the basement, I found my shoe box with dahlia tubers from last fall that I had completely forgotten about. I had not watered them once during the past seven months. Surprisingly, two of the four plants were still alive and showed new, albeit anemic, growth. I planted them in the plot. Yay for more flowers in my garden!

Spring Planting

Garden plot May 24
left side (from front): peas, spinach, onion, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, butternut squash, pepper, flowers
right side: radishes, Swiss Chard, head lettuce, cauliflower, beets, leeks, garlic, potatoes, onions, asparagus, rhubarb, flowers

Here are my actual spring planting dates for this season.

Indoors:

  • March 16: started eggplant (Fairy Tale) and hot Thai pepper from seed indoors
  • March 23: started eggplant (Ping Tung), tomatoes (Break O’Day, Paul Robeson, Dr. Wychee Yellow, Green Zebra, Baker Family Heirloom), curly kale (seeds from 2017) and head lettuce (Kagran Summer) from seed
  • March 30: basil (sweet Italian) – six compartments in egg carton from seed
  • April 8: shipment of seed potatoes arrived. I put them out to sprout.
  • April 20: repotted tomatoes and some of the lettuce
  • April 21: I lost most of my seedlings tonight. I still have some tomatoes (one each Break O’Day, Dr. Wychee, Green Zebra) and the basil. I re-sowed one pot each of pickling cucumber, and slicer cucumber as well as one Paul Robeson tomato. No home-grown eggplant or peppers this year. It is too late to reseed. I also still have some head lettuce and kale.
“Hot Thai” pepper and “Fairy Tale” eggplant seedlings, 2 weeks old (March 30)

Outdoors

  • March 19: started mâche in a big flat on our back porch
  • March 31: sowed two rows of sugar snap peas, one row of spinach in between in plot; also two rows of carrots (Bolero) and one row of radishes in between (French breakfast)
  • April 6: the mâche did not germinate. I sowed arugula and spring greens in the same big flat
  • April 28: resowed carrots (rainbow) and sowed lettuce (Kagran Summer and Bronze Beauty) and some more peas in plot
  • April 28: sowed Swiss chard and leaf lettuce “Great Salad Bowl” in two separate pots on the back porch
  • May 7: trip to Allendale Farm. I purchased herbs for the plot and the back porch (basil, parsley, sage, thyme), cauliflower, head lettuce, lavender, dahlias and Osteospermum plus fertilizer and other supplies. I potted up the flowers, sage, thyme, 2 lettuce plants, 1 parsley and two basil cells for the back porch. The rest will go in the plot in the next couple of days.
  • May 11: planted fingerling potatoes and sowed more carrots, Swiss chard and peas as well as sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos in plot. Also planted dahlia tubers (only 3, they were supposed to be two each, but one bag only had one bit tuber in it). Transplanted the 6 cauliflower plants, 4 lettuce plants and the parsley I bought a few days ago.
  • May 18: planted eggplant (Fairy Tale), one tomato (Paul Robeson) and hot pepper (Jedi Jalapeno) in pots on the back porch
  • May 23: planted potatoes in grow bags on the back porch
  • May 24: transplanted seedlings into the plot: 6 tomatoes, 1 pepper, 2 cucumbers (1 pickling, 1 slicer), 1 butternut squash and a six-pack each of golden beets and leeks
  • June 15: transplanted two cucumber plants (Marketmore, a slicer and Little Lemon, a pickling cucumber) into the plot
Tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, basil seedlings on April 20

Porch Arugula Fail

I planted arugula on my porch on April 6. It had been so cold and wet these past weeks that those little guys had a hard time growing. Finally, on May 6, spring seemed to have started at last.

May 7 – tiny plants after a month

Not much happened during the month of May. The plants stayed tiny because it was still wet and cold (there was even snow one day in Central Massachusetts!). I thinned the bed on May 25th.

May 25 – thinning after the first couple of warmer days.

At the end of May, the temperatures started to steadily stay in the upper sixties / low seventies during the day. The plants did not like the sudden heat on my southwest-facing porch and bolted.

June 8 – leggy and bolting

I composted the whole lot. Well, at least I got a delicious lunch out of it. Maybe if I try it again next year, I will grow them in a shadier cooler spot to prevent bolting. And I sure hope for a “normal” spring.

(Trans)planting

Today, I transplanted most of my seedlings: 6 tomatoes, 1 pepper, 2 cucumbers (1 pickling, 1 slicer), 1 butternut squash and a six-pack each of golden beets and leeks.

I also thinned the radishes and harvested two huge overwintered leeks that were in the way. All lettuce and the cauliflower plants have chew holes but the inner leaves look healthy. The spinach is looking good, not too much pest damage. The peas are coming along and the garlic is looking strong. The carrots are a no-show again. Not sure what the problem is. I will wait a couple more weeks and then resow.

Porch Potatoes

Banana fingerling seed potato

I had some seed potatoes left over from the garden plot and decided to try grow bags this year. I planted three potatoes (with 2 to 3 eyes each) in a 7-gallon grow bag and put them on the back porch. It is getting crowded there so I will likely move the bags to the front porch in the near future.

I added 4 inches of potting soil to the bag and planted the potatoes on top.
I then covered the potatoes with another 4 inches of soil.
Now I wait for the sturdy little plants to emerge and will add another 4 inches of soil.

Spring Garden Day

I spent three hours in the garden today. What a beautiful spring day! I pulled some weeds, cleaned my rock & brick collection that I keep at the fence, and weeded out my stakes and supports. I thinned the spinach and the radishes and trellised the peas. I also planted: fingerling potatoes (finally!), more peas, more carrots, more Swiss Chard. I transplanted the cauliflower, parsley and lettuce I bought earlier this week. Towards the fence, I planted dahlias (Star Elite and Rip City), sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos.

Garlic (with a cauliflower plant)
Potato patch

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Finally, spring is here. It has been so cold and wet these past weeks, everything in my garden is late. So far, I have only planted peas, spinach, radishes, carrots and lettuce in my plot. The rhubarb is coming up as are the first spears of asparagus.

I went to Allendale Farm this morning to get herbs for my back porch. I indeed got parsley, sage and thyme, but they were out of rosemary. I also got a six-pack each of basil, cauliflower and “Buttercrunch” head lettuce. I will plant a couple of the basil and lettuce cells in pots on my porch. The rest will go into my plot together with the cauliflower and some parsley.

Sage “Berggarten”
French thyme

I also got some flowers: lavender “Kew Red” and Osteospermum. Both are planted in containers on the back porch. And I purchased dahlia tubers (the one I overwintered in the basement did not survive – I forgot to keep them moist throughout the winter), garden twine, labels, environmentally-friendly insecticidal soap (to keep the aphids in check) and organic fish & seaweed fertilizer.

Osteospermum “4D Pink”
Herb shelf (in progress)

Tomato Seedlings

I re-potted my tomato seedlings today. I had originally planted two of each: Paul Robeson, Break O’Day (both early varieties), Dr. Wychee Yellow (mid-season), Green Zebra and Baker Family Heirloom (both late season tomatoes). Only one of the Dr. Wychee’s came up, but that’s okay. I still have nine healthy tomato plants, all except for one Paul Robeson will be planted in the community plot later in May. The Paul Robeson will be planted in a container on our back porch. I also re-potted four lettuce seedlings. I put them all back under the grow light for a few more weeks. The remaining seedlings (eggplant, hot pepper, cucumbers, kale, lettuce) are still in the peat pots under the grow light.