Wednesday, March 29, 2017
February 15 - Plant 1st Peas (Did it, obviously)
February 28 - 1st Peas sprout (They're coming up this week, a bit slow)
April 1 - Plant 2nd Peas
Plant Morning Glories
Plant Moon Flowers
Plant Okra indoors
Plant Artichoke indoors
Plant Asparagus indoors
April 11 - Kale sprouts
Moon Flowers sprout
April 13 - Nasturtiums sprout
April 15 - Plant Pumpkins
2nd Peas sprout
Morning Glories sprout
April 25 - Pumpkins sprout
Harvest 1st Peas
May 1 - Transplant Okra
May 21 - Harvest Kale
May 29 - Harvest Okra
June 10 - Harvest 2nd Peas
July 4 - Harvest Beans
July 14 - Harvest Squash
August 8 - Harvest Pumpkins
September 28 - Harvest Artichoke
All the information for planting times and harvest times are taken from the backs of seed packets. Will they be accurate? Do I even have enough room in my garden for all this? Probably not.
I also want to plant Amaranth and Carrots. We'll see.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
So I didn't get into the garden much in the following weeks. Just a couple of times to check on the chickens before retreating to the house and my benadryl.
But spring marched on without me and, washing dishes yesterday, I was thrilled to look out the kitchen window and see that some of the apple trees budding out!
Not only that, the asparagus that struggled last year (mostly because of the chickens. I blame the chickens) has sent up 2 spears!I am absolutely thrilled with this as I was pretty sure that none of the asparagus I had planted last year had survived.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
First step was to gather some soil (chosen from the center of the bed and about 4 inches below mulch level) to soak in a jar with filtered water overnight.
As per the kit's instructions, this was for the NPK test but it also gave me an opportunity to check the soil texture ratio while it was in the jar. The ruler shows that my soil had (roughly and from bottom to top) 15 mm of sand, 3 mm of silt, 2 mm of clay, and floating at the top 10 mm of peat. So mostly sand, which is no surprise given my geography, even though the bed was filled with 100% municipal "compost".
The next step was drawing the liquid from the jar and using it to test for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels. Those 3 tubes on the right should be bright magenta, deep blue, and a rusty orange. The orange, at least, is clearly present. Plenty of potash. The blue, indicating potassium, is there, if faintly. Nitrogen is very much lacking, as you can see from the sickly pink. Are these tests highly accurate? Probably not but it gives me a ballpark.
Last, with a bit of soil reserved from the jar, I tested the PH balance. The result, a rather rich blue-green, looks pretty alkaline. There is limestone in the area so this is possible. Or it could be a procedural error on my part. The jar I collected into had been full of sauerkraut. Fearing that residual vinegar would give me a false acidic result, I used a fair bit of baking soda when I washed it out. I tried to rinse it thoroughly but there's still some doubt. Clearly I should to run a few more tests.
However, assuming my results were more or less accurate, where does that leave me? Sandy, alkaline soil that's lacking in nitrogen and phosphorous. I my sandy soil is usable, it just won't hold on onto nutrients as well as might be hoped. If the alkalinity is due to limestone, I could adjust it with sulfur but it would swing back eventually, requiring continual amendment. Nitrogen and phosphorous levels can be fixed with fertilizer but, due to the sand content, would need constant re application. Or I just accept my soil for what it s and plant things that prefer alkaline sand.
Or I continue laying on as much good compost as I can make with a lot of chicken manure. Which is what I would have done anyway if I had never done the tests. My garden will probably never be the best ever but over the years the soil will improve. Maybe I'll try a ground cover that is a nitrogen fixer, like clover. I kinda wanted to do that anyway.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The past two weeks have been sunny, in the 70s, and beautiful. I was sneezing my head off. Then, yesterday and today, it snowed. There goes this years false spring.
The best thing about the false spring is that it reminds me that it's time to plant peas. It's actually a little early for Albuquerque but mid-February is definitely pea planting time down in Las Cruces, where I picked up the habit. Sometimes you can get away with it in Abq. The first planting of the year. The beginning of the gardening season. I love it.
So this afternoon Little Digger and I went out and planted a row of Sugar Snap Peas along the back of the apple bed. Hopefully, they'll sprout and wind their way up the chainlink wall of the chicken pen that presses up against the bed. If the chickens don't peck them to pieces first, we'll have fresh, sweet peas in a few months.
While I was out there, I noticed that a few plants in my garden were fooled by the false spring. Day lilies are peeking their heads through the mulch in a few places, as are the Hollyhocks we planted last year. Maybe they'll actually produce a few flowers this time around! The herbs all seem to have overwintered pretty well. We even have a couple strawberry plants that seem to have survived!
I am so excited for this year.
Monday, February 13, 2017
The biggest addition to my garden last year was fauna, rather than flora. We got a couple of chickens! Me and Mrs. Digger had been considering it for a while when a chicken coop showed up on Craigslist for $20. It had been purchased by a family living in the mountains and, immediately after putting chickens in it, a bear knocked it over and devoured it's contents. I bought it, fixed it up, and put a couple chickens of my own in it. They're Dominique hens, which have the distinction of being America's oldest chicken breed. They were selected for being hardy, decent layers who tend to be quiet and friendly.
Now, there are some great things about having chickens in the yard too. Primarily, I got fresh eggs on a regular basis (until they started hopping the wall and hiding them in neighbors' yards). Second, they love grubs as much as I hate them. Any time I'm digging in the yard, they are right there with me, waiting for a chance to snap up a juicy grub. They turn those grubs (and a lot of other stuff) into excellent fertilizer. Lastly, they're sweet, easy creatures. I think their temperament is similar to that of cats. They're independent enough to exist alone quite happily as long as I keep their food and water filled but when I'm out there they ask to be petted or held. That's the kind of pet I like.
This year will be good. I will dig. Plants will grow.
I can't wait to get out there.
Friday, April 24, 2015
There were xerics and natives outside, a tool sharpener, a table full of violets, and a full room of tomatoes, but the highlight for me was the Day Lily Club table. There were lilies with every color bloom (purple, red, pink ,orange, yellow, and white). Little Digger wanted one that had yellow flowers with purple stripes. Unfortunately they wouldn't sell any plants till 1:00 and we couldn't stay that late.
We returned after nap but the day lily table had be cleared out and put away. Apparently I'm not the only lily lover in this city. Fortunately, I found a few poorly labeled day lilies on another table. I have no idea what color they will be (probably the normal orange) but they were a quarter of the price.
This was a really fun event and a great chance to support the city's gardening community and score some cheap/unusual plants.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
The sun comes up, warm and bright. It is spring and plants burst forth waving green flags, bright and new, to announce that they did not succumb to winter's chill.
All of the apple saplings in my yard have survived their first winter, a good omen for my fledgling garden, and some day lilies are beginning to poke their way through the soil. It will be an exciting year for this digger.
Unfortunately, my little lawn has suffered some from my inexperience. There are many dead patches which I am attributing to white grubs preparing for hibernation last fall. I'm not sure what to do about them just yet. In the meantime, I've aerated the remaining grass and topdressed it with compost.