Peas Planted

It may have been a little hasty, but the 2011 garden season is, at last, officially underway. With recent temperatures hovering in the 40's I have been delaying my first planting of peas longer than I would have liked. Yesterday, however, the sun was out and the weather felt suitably spring-like so I decided that it was time to give it a go and get some seeds into the ground.

I am planting two pea types this year. Green Arrow (which I grew last year) which is a productive low climbing shelling pea. And also Amish Sugar Snap which is a vigorous climber and good for eating raw, pod and all.

I have high hopes this year to incorporate Aiden into as many garden activities as possible. He got a garden tool set for Christmas and has seemed excited to put his little trowel and watering can to good use. Pea planting was a perfect 3 year old garden project. We pushed aside the top layer of leaves around the pea teepees that I had built and Aiden used the wooden dibbler to poke holes into the ground.

After carefully placing a pea seed into each hole we filled in the holes and gave to area a good smooth pat down with our trowels. A few of the seeds received some extra water from Aiden's watering can for good measure.

Peas successfully planted!

Hopefully potatoes will follow in short order. I would have liked to have them in ground earlier as well, but cold wet weather can spell rot for seed potatoes, so I am going to dig in my heels and wait. I may try to "chit" my potatoes this year, which means to put them out on a shelf in the basement where they will begin to sprout- this could give them a head start in the growing department while still avoiding the bad weather.

Also, I planted the tomato seeds into my mini-greenhouse flat in the kitchen. Again I am about a week behind when I started seeds last year, but in the end I don't think that this should make too much difference.


signs of spring

The Forsythias are in bloom and the bulbs have emerged- even though the weather is struggling to top 50 degrees there are signs of spring all over the yard and garden.

The first of my perennial vegetables emerged this week. I found 4 or 5 bright red heads of rhubarb poking up through the leaves in the garden. I could not be more pleased with the rhubarb as it seems to thrive in one of the garden's shadiest corners.

Last weekend I completed one of my first projects of the season. These bean and pea poles are part of my plan to maximize my vertical growing space this year. I'd hoped to have the peas in the ground by now, but the cold, wet weather has postponed any early planting.

This picture shows the rest of the pea/ bean poles. I need to get another load of bamboo as I still want to put in trellesing for tomatoes and winter squash. The foreground of this picture is the spot where I am hoping to put the duck house- another work in progress...


Panning Part III- The Master Plan

Here my high-tech 2011 garden master plan. Clicking on the image should enlarge it enough to make the text readable.

Additional note: First seeds of the season ordered this past week. Yukon Gold and Purple Viking potatoes, and Green Arrow and Amish Sugar Snap peas.


2011 Planning- Part II

Looking back at my list of planned projects last year, I actually didn't do half bad. I'd give myself maybe a B-.

The new raised bed were a substantial accomplishment as they significantly increased both the size and quality of my growing space. Similarly the lattice/ trellis wall along the parking lot side of the garden was a serious improvement and a welcome addition. The added privacy is great, and I am hoping to better utilize the additional vertical growing space this year.

The compost pile did not see much activity and still looks more or less the same as last year, although at the end of the season I did acquire a nice sized shipping pallet that I am hoping to use to better define the area. I did follow through on my plans to plant perennial vegetables, in this case Asparagus and Rhubarb. Although neither yielded a harvest the first year (which is expected) they both showed signs of vigour and life- the Rhubarb in particular was strong. I am going to try to be as attentive as possible to the Asparagus this year in hopes of getting it well established for the years to come. My final project (chicken acquisition) never materialized. Unfortunately this one simply fell by the wayside.

Now, looking ahead to planned projects for the 2011 season:

Compost Heap: This needs to happen. Right now my derelict pile of old leaves and garden waste takes up maximum space while providing minimal finished, usable compost. My goal is a neat, compact, active and effective pile to provide the beds with a continually renewing source of garden fertility.

Ducks: My ideal backyard bird has always been a duck. One of my farming hero's Eliott Coleman is a champion of ducks in the garden saying that not only do they lay eggs, eat bugs, and provide fertilizer as well (or better than) chickens, they also are generally more amicable and pleasant to be around. I am hoping to get 3-4 Khaki Cambell ducks, probably from here.

Season Extension: I am already doing this in a rudimentary way by starting seedlings indoors on a windowsill, and outside in my "mini greenhouse" pots. My hope though is to develop a system of low hoop plastic tunnels to fit over the raised beds frames so that I can continue growing longer into the cold fall and winter months. I am again looking to Eliot Coleman, specifically his book "Four Season Harvest" for inspiration and instruction on this one.

Vertical Expansion: This is always an ongoing work in progress, but I am hoping this year to find more ways to use vertical space for growing. I have the large lattice wall in place, but additionally I'll have access this year to a nearly unlimited supply of good quality long bamboo poles, so the possibilities for trellis and tee pee building are endless.


2011 Planning- Part I

Crop List in Progress for 2011 season:

Amish Paste
Gold Medal*
Matt's Wild Cherry*
Red Brandywine
Halladay's Mortgage Lifter*
Eden's Gem*
Golden Midget*
Blacktail Mountain

Purple Viking*
Yukon Gold

Burgess Buttercup*
Winter Luxury Pie*

Costata Romenesco
Yellow Crookneck

Amish Snap*
Green Arrow

A&C Pickling

Tongue of Fire*
Garden of Eden*

Ancho Gigantea

Lacinato Kale*
Rhubarb Red Chard
Lettuce Mix
Blue Solaiae Leek*
De Cicco Broccoli*

*new variety