Friday, April 24, 2009

Frost and Snow

I haven't had time to post about the broccoli adventure lately, I've had a million things going on outside the garden. But, if there is anyone out there that may have stumbled upon my blog and thought that I was a seasoned veteran gardener, well I should let you know right now that I make mistakes - a lot. I think it is important to share my pitfalls as well as successes. That's what makes the global gardening community so tight knit.

So here goes. Remember when I told you all how perfect the day was for planting broccoli. It was perfect, but the next morning I awoke to frost ... a lot of frost. I made the rookie mistake of trusting Mother Nature. I went to bed without even checking the weather report. When I woke up, I noticed the frost and immediately grabbed my watering can to wash the frost off. I saved the plants, but there was plenty of damage. Needless to say, I was pretty upset with myself.

Along those same lines, I made the mistake of trusting the weather report. Today I woke up to trace amounts of snow. The forecast was calling for rain, so I didn't cover the broccoli in order to give it a drink from Big Momma Nature. When the wife announced to me that it had snowed, I promptly let out an expletive and threw on a jacket. There I was green watering can in hand, wearing my sweatpants and a gray hoodie and cursing under my breath. I washed all the snow off. Once again it is still alive, but could look healthier.

I apologize for not having any pictures but I was much to busy cursing at inanimate objects to think about the camera.

Live and learn.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Planting Out the Broccoli

Today I transplanted my broccoli seedlings into the garden. It actually turned out to be the perfect day for transplanting broccoli. It's overcast, not too warm and not windy. Broccoli likes cool weather. From here on out it's a race with time. It's best to get your broccoli harvested before the warm weather brings in the bugs. Bugs like to lay their eggs in the broccoli heads and that's not good. Kinda nasty actually.

The Marvel that is Spinach
Spinach surprise number one: the over-wintered spinach plant is alive and well!

Spinach surprise number two: we allowed a couple spinach plants last year go to seed, but never got around to harvesting the seeds. Where they died, a whole host of volunteer spinach plants are sprouting.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cold Frame Gardening in April?

It's mid-April and it was 64 degrees today, so perhaps it is about the end of the cold frame season. Nonetheless, I finally got some plants underneath my cold frame. I transplanted the spinach and mustard, and also planted some swiss chard, lettuce and more spinach. Even though the cold frame season is probably coming to an end in most of the country, here in North Dakota we could easily have another cold snap or two. None of that matters anyway. My beaming pride would have forced me to stubbornly put the cold frame in the garden even if it had been 90 degrees.

So far the transplants don't seem to be any worse for the ware. It will take a few days for the roots to begin venturing out and then I'll see some new growth. In this picture you can see the mustard in the back and the spinach in the foreground. You can also see the Univent automatic vent opener that I installed. I ordered it from this company. It is temperature sensitive and expands and contracts with the heat and cold cycles of each day. It was a little spendy, but I'm not home during the day to manually vent the cold frame to keep the sun from scorching the plants.

Upon strolling through the newly snowless garden, the wife spotted something interesting. Something green. These are a couple of spinach plants that didn't get out of the garden before the snow flew last fall. Now that the snowy blanket has lifted, they have emerged and almost look lively. I'm going to monitor them to see if they start growing again. If they do, it will give me great hope for winter gardening. Even in zone 4!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring is Here

Yesterday was one of the first days where the weather felt good enough to be outside. So I took the opportunity to screen some compost so I can be prepared to plant under my cold frame. Which, by the by, finally made it outside. We planted our leafy greens within the cold frame, but I haven't taken any pictures yet. I digress. It may be a true testament to how big of nerd I am that I am very proud of my compost. So here it is.

The screen is 1/4" hardware cloth. I realized right quick that I need to construct a larger one approximately wheelbarrow sized. The last picture is my two bin compost system. I turned the full side over into the side I just emptied out into the wheelbarrow. I'll leave it there to finish and I will start a new pile in the now empty side.