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Old 02-16-2016, 09:45 AM
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What a beautiful day out there! A gusty line of storms came through quickly last evening, dumping 8/10" of rain and chasing away the cold, windy weather. At 9:30 it's already 61 out on the sunny front porch.

Today I will prep the spinach area and sow some. I've got the old standard 'Bloomsdale Longstanding' and a new-to-me one called 'Space'. The 'Space' is supposed to be very bolt resistant with a high percentage of female plants, high yields and possibly a 3-season spinach. We'll see.

The brassica seeds sown the other day are all up except the 'Flash' collards. It was original seed from 2012 so I just now reseeded those cells with seed I collected in 2014. Since 'Flash' is a hybrid, it should be interesting to see what comes from collected seed! Another experiment. At least the 'Alabama Blue' collards are up and running.

Here are the newly popped seeds up under the light. I basically use 3" deep cell packs and some rust colored cups I got free from where I worked (grabbed them out of the dumpster). Both grow a really good plant without having to transplant (I'm lazy) and Jung is the only place I've found that carries that size. The sown packs sit in styrofoam trays (that meat comes in from the grocery) for bottom watering and get covered with plastic wrap until the seedlings emerge. I have a whole carton of various trays. Duct tape labels.

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Old 02-19-2016, 10:18 AM
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There's not much going on here but I'm starting to prep the four pea beds. Had other stuff to do yesterday (grocery run, etc) but I got one pea bed turned over yesterday afternoon and will work on more today.

The first turnips are popping up. They were sown on Feb 2 when the weather was nice and then it turned cold again so they took their time coming up. I'll probably sow more today as I'm trying to keep succession planting going and not have a ton of turnips ready at once.

Orphan tomato update: It must like the shop light because it's at least doubled in size and I see the beginnings of tiny bud clusters forming. A long time until April planting outside! There's also a flower on the 'Much Nacho' pepper (another germination trial orphan) and yesterday I tickled it with a soft brush for pollination.

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Old 02-21-2016, 09:24 AM
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The four pea beds are now shovel-turned and yesterday I got one forked with the Beast. What I call the Beast is a 30 lb steel fork with four 16" tines. It sure gets down there and loosens the soil deeply.

The bed I beasted yesterday is right about at the edge of the canopy of an old black walnut tree and so feeder roots develop over a year and so every year they need to be busted up and pulled out. It was slow going and afterwards, for whatever reason, my left knee wasn't feeling so good. I have two total knee replacements that are now 16 years old so if I overdo in the garden, one or the other usually lets me know. It's ok this morning. Good, because I have a few kale plants to set out ahead of the rain.

On top of that, Friday night the well pump wouldn't shut off. Why do things always happen after hours and on a weekend? Long story short, I called the family run well company (in business 48 years) first thing yesterday morning and although they don't normally work on Saturdays, the nice owner sent out the grandson who does the fixing.

The 30 year old submersible pump had finally died, got replaced and $1200 later we have water again. Just one of those things. He said that pumps nowadays last only about 10-15 years. At least the new unit was made in the good old USA by a company in Seneca Falls, NY. Saaaalute!
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Old 02-21-2016, 09:09 PM
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Where did you get your Beast? How well does it go through rock-hard clay soil? If it will go through that, it sounds like something I need!
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Old 02-24-2016, 11:49 AM
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Where did you get your Beast? How well does it go through rock-hard clay soil? If it will go through that, it sounds like something I need!
I bought it five years ago and can't remember who I got it from! I've been trying to find it online by searching "broadforks" and have found some but nothing like mine. Mine is all steel and has one handle. All of the others have two handles; and only one had 16" tines available.

I got it to start loosening soil for building the raised beds. My soil has clay and sand mix. I usually stand on the fork and rock back and forth to get the tines down deep then get off and heave back. Some of the new bed areas were previous pathways and rock hard so those had to be pried up about 4-6" deep and then down another 4-6" until I got the tines all the way down. Those were booger bears to do.

Here's what I found online:

Two handles, four 12” or 14” tines
http://www.easydigging.com/broadfork.html

Two handles, four 12”, 14” or 16” tines
https://meadowcreature.com/broadforks

Two handles, 4 or 5 tines, 12” tines
http://www.valleyoaktool.com/broadfork/

Here are several pics of mine:







Specs (in case you have a welder in the family):

Tines - 16" long
Tine head - 18" across
Handle - 4' long pipe that fits down inside the head and is secured by two bolts (with nuts) that go all the way through the pipe.

It wasn't cheap (about $200) but my sister and I split the cost as a mutual Christmas gift and it's the best friend the garden's had. It'll last forever. It also has cut down on tilling as I can just beast up a hole or two for planting this and that or beast the whole bed. Once you've forked up a bed, subsequent forkings are rather easy and go a LOT quicker.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-27-2016, 06:36 PM
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The last few days I've had a case of gardenus interruptus with "stuff" intruding like rain, a meeting in another town and Find A Grave.com work. But last night, after a week of low 70's/high 60's, the weather report called for 29 this morning.

Having seeds just popping through and not wanting to take a chance, I decided to cover a few things in the garden. They were spinach, beets, turnips and radishes and thus pretty tough but still, just popping up and I didn't want to chance it. Might have been a good move as this morning we had a heavy frost. As soon as the sun cleared the trees I removed the covers.

Here's the tunnel I use with hoops made of the black plastic irrigation, 6 mil plastic and those clips that snap on to hold the plastic to the hoops.



Then for small area cover, I use tomato cages made of welded wire fencing by unhooking the cage, opening it up and sticking the ends in the ground to form a tunnel. I've also used these opened tomato cages over greens to keep the deer at bay until the plants are big enough that I need to start using the netting.



Over in the pasture the frost was still heavy in the shadow of a cedar tree while all the rest of it had melted with the rising sun.



Tomorrow I hope to get the peas planted.
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:46 PM
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It's a gorgeous blue sky day out there! A bit windy making 65 feel cooler but the sun's warm.

On Sunday and Monday I planted my English peas (as opposed to field or crowder peas) and sugar snaps. Did two double rowed beds of ‘Wando’ , one double rowed bed of ‘Sabre’ and half a bed of ‘Sugar Sprint’ snap peas. ‘Wando’ does well here since the weather can get warm in May and they do well in heat or cold. I tried ‘Sabre’ for the first time two years ago and they’ve done well too.

This is a pic of a double rowed pea bed. I use 18” tall strips of welded wire fence (2”x4” mesh) for support on each side of the bed and then plant a row of peas on each side of the fence. So for an 18’ bed I get 72 row feet of peas.



Today I planted ‘Melting Sugar’ snow peas on a 4’ wide welded wire fence trellis. I use two 4’x4’ panels hung from nails on the supporting poles and tied to the poles. That 4’ wide row of snow peas will make more than I need so this year I’m gonna play with dehydrating some.



Down the sides of the snow pea bed there are scallions ‘Guardsman’ and ‘Shimonita’ and ‘Carantan’ leeks that were set out early December. In late April when the soil warms enough I’m going to plant three ‘Tatume’ squash down the middle of the bed. I've already prepped the planting holes with manure and marked the hole locations. The seed came from Baker Creek. It’s one of this year’s garden “toys”. Native to Mexico, apparently it can be used like a summer squash when young and like a winter squash when older. Supposedly a rambunctious critter. Here’s a link to a great article about it:
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/n...un/tatume.html
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Old 03-02-2016, 07:54 PM
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Hopefully the scallions won't interfere with the growth of your peas, as members of the onion family tend to inhibit the growth of beans and peas. I always avoid planting them together, and always let at least a year (and other crops) go between planting beans and peas where members of the onion family have been previously.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:51 AM
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Yeah, I've read that too. This will be a good experiment as it's just a 4' wide strip of snow peas and not a whole bed of peas! But I do have a three year rotation on onion planting locations and try to do the three year rotation on all of the major plant families.

I like to push the envelope on stuff, "just to see."
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Old 03-03-2016, 06:51 PM
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How about rebar to reinforce the sides . Its what I use , much stronger than 1/2 pvc . Also easy to pound into ground .
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IceFire View Post
Hopefully the scallions won't interfere with the growth of your peas, as members of the onion family tend to inhibit the growth of beans and peas. I always avoid planting them together, and always let at least a year (and other crops) go between planting beans and peas where members of the onion family have been previously.
I had never heard that! I actually looked up companion plants to see what is recommended. And I went to my picture file to see if I had planted my beans next to my garlic? I don't raise peas, so no worry there. Can't remember, but I do raise garlic and potato/Egyptian walking onions. Ah, no never mind. I do crop rotations, but never consider companion plantings. Not enough room in my little gardens. I do raise bush beans and pole beans. They're going where they're going.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:48 AM
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How about rebar to reinforce the sides . Its what I use , much stronger than 1/2 pvc . Also easy to pound into ground .
Right you are! When I started the first two raised beds I did use rebar but to use it for 13 more beds was going to be cost prohibitive. So far (four years) the PVC pipes have held up and not cracked or splintered. Keeping fingers crossed.

If one does break it will be cheap to replace and there's always some under the garden shed.
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Old 03-04-2016, 10:00 AM
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'Red Faro' Quinoa was a late addition to this year's seed list as was amaranth. They're several of this year's garden "toys". Because it was described as drought tolerant I thought it would be great to play with. Spinach substitute and seed to boot!

However, I've been reminded that I need to do my research before buying new-to-me seed. Georgia (at least my part of it) is definitely not a place where quinoa will do well.

According to what I read two nights ago, it's a 100 day plant (knew that) and likes cool conditions for both germination and growing (didn't know that). In fact, it likes soil temps of 45-50 for germination! Temps above 95 cause plant dormancy or pollen sterility, thus no seed.

So I figured I'd better sow it soonest and yesterday did two 18' rows 1' apart in the unscheduled half of the sugar snap pea bed. We got an inch of rain last night so it's watered in.

Two handy articles on quinoa:

user friendly article: http://www.gardeningblog.net/how-to-grow/quinoa/

More detailed, scientific article: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/quinoa.html
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Old 03-05-2016, 01:48 PM
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It started off blue sky beautiful this morning. 65, sunny and just right for digging in the garden without a jacket.

I got out the shovel and turned under the leaf cover on three more beds. One of those beds will be planted with six peppers and two eggplants the end of April so I amended the holes where they'll go and marked the locations.

Women's basketball conference tournaments are winding down and there are a few good games I want to watch this afternoon so that's all for the garden today. Tomorrow I will set out more scallions as they're hardened off and ready to go.

No sign of peas cracking through yet but after an inch of rain Thursday evening it shouldn't be much longer.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:27 AM
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The past few days I've gotten several more beds turned over. One more to go.

I also set out some 'Guardsman' scallions and 'White Granex' onion plants. The Granex is what they plant in lower Georgia to become Vidalia onions and they are usually set out in October-November. Since I didn't have the seed then I am trying a few for spring and will follow the big boys lead in planting more this fall.

Also got some 'Asia Gaul' and 'Minowasi' daikon radishes sown yesterday.

The peas should be popping through any day now.
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Old 03-11-2016, 11:49 AM
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Today has high clouds but it's still heading to 80 for the second day. The English peas are now poking up but they're taking their time this year for whatever reason. Had me worried for a while there. This morning I saw that the 'Red Faro' Quinoa (OP, from Baker) is starting to come up too. This is the first time I've grown this.

Last night I started the second round of 'Packman' broccoli as well as 'Stonehead' and 'Charleston Wakefield' cabbages. The first round, started on Feb 11, will be ready to set out in a few days after a bit more hardening off. Hoping the four week stagger will prevent an "all at once" harvest.

Monday I start the peppers. Off and running!

I've got four collard plants left from fall, two are 'Alabama Blue' (OP, from Southern Exposure) and 'Flash' (hybrid, from Territorial). Both are tasty and four plants is all I care to have right now.

Here's the 'Alabama Blue'. It's really pretty:



This is the 'Flash'. The leaves are more substantial and not real huge.



Spring is here. For those of you who still have snow on the ground, here's a foretaste of better times to come. These daffodils (forgot the name) come up every spring right next to one of the veg beds.

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Old 03-13-2016, 10:50 AM
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So many good ideas!

Thanks for posting!
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Old 03-13-2016, 05:47 PM
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The last several days have been busy ones. On Friday I went to my old place of employment and got my annual spring load of free 8'x1" pieces of wood that I cut in half and use for garden stakes. I also got some free pallets that the 15 gal. nursery pots of tomatoes will sit on this summer. Hopefully that will keep the fire ants out of the pots and make mowing around the plants easier. And the lower part of the garden was finally dry enough to get it's first tilling.

Yesterday I took advantage of a free firearms training session put on by the County Sheriff's office; points of Georgia concealed carry law from the assistant DA in the morning and range fire early afternoon. Later in the afternoon this place got it's first mowing of the season as the winter "lawn lettuce" was getting out of hand.

Today I did another tilling of the lower area and set out some 'Shimonita' scallion plants. There were also small fire ant mounds starting up in four of the raised beds so they got the Dawn dish liquid treatment before they got any bigger.

Here's a shot of the garden I took this morning. I gave that lower area another tilling today at right angles to the previous tilling so that it's tilled across the slight slope from top to bottom. There will eventually be 'Silver Queen' corn on the right side; various winter squash, Amaranth and sunflowers on the left.



On the right side of the garden, there's a brown area behind the daffodils. That's an 18' x 18' asparagus bed covered with leaves as mulch. This is what I found there yesterday... the first two spears of the year.

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Old 03-13-2016, 06:18 PM
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Last night I found that the winter arugula is starting to bolt in this warm weather we're having. That's on the left. The warm weather arugula on the right is doing just fine and was great in my tossed salad last night. I love having it so handy on the porch and not having to trudge down to the garden for it. Cheap plastic window boxes from Dollar General with extra drainage holes drilled.



Today I set out 'Shimonita' scallions that I grew in a market pack from seed I had collected last year. This variety, if left to get beyond the size of regular scallions, can almost be used as a small leek, maybe 5/8" to 3/4" wide. They rarely last that long around here to get that size! I'm planting a lot more scallions this year as I like to have them year round and last year I didn't plant enough. Maybe I'll have enough to test the "small leek" theory.

Direct seeding, for whatever reason, doesn't work so well for me so I grow the scallions in packs. Separating them out in a bowl of water works like a charm as they just slip apart without damage to the roots. Then I put them on a styro tray lined and covered with wet paper towels to keep the roots moist during the separation and planting. This pack made a little over 100 plants but could have been more heavily sown. I'm planting a lot more scallions this year as I like to have them year round and last year I didn't plant enough. I already have pulled the first 'Guardsman' scallions planted out last fall and have set out another batch a few days ago. Need to start more.



Here are the "early bird" plants that were survivors of the December seed germination test. They sure have grown! The tomato is the one that was sitting in front of a vertically hung shop light that I posted a photo of earlier. The plant is now about 30" tall and has two clusters of flowers! Also on the steps are one fernleaf dill and the three early bird pepper plants (one each 'Mucho Nacho', 'Maule's Red Hot' cayenne and 'Marconi Red'). The pepper plants have peppers growing on them as I have been tickling the flowers with little brushes. Each plant has it's own brush. Got a pack of about 25 fof those for a buck-something at Wally World.



Tomorrow I will start the rest of the pepper plants; more of the same early bird varieties plus 'Carolina Wonder' (supposedly bred for the South, from Southern Exposure) and Italian Pepperoncini (OP, Baker Seeds). This will probably be the last year I do the 'Carolina Wonder'. It still doesn't make bell peppers as large as they could be. Two years ago I read that it's too hot, etc to grow good bells in the South and that the longer frying type peppers do much better. I switched to 'Marconi' and tried several similar others since and they have done a lot better. I was almost to the point of giving up growing sweet peppers!
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Old 03-14-2016, 12:25 PM
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Today I started peppers.

‘Carolina Wonder’ (OP, Southern Exposure introduction in 1999) – according to the catalog description, it is “the best nematode-resistant bell for home gardeners.” Similar to ‘California Wonder’ in size and shape. I have root knot nematodes here and there in the garden and have been fighting them with marigolds so this is why I tried this one for the first time in 2014. It’s done better than most bells for me but as I mentioned the other day, the frying type peppers do much better here than bells. This might be the last year I grow these. We’ll see.

‘Red Marconi’ (OP, Baker Creek) – This is a late Italian frying-style pepper that has done well for me. A little thin-walled as the frying peppers are but good flavor green or red and dehydrates easily.

‘Mucho Nacho’ – This is a jalapeno I originally bought as an F1 hybrid but have collected the seed for two years now so it’s not really true to the name. The original peppers were a nice size; the collected seed produces peppers a bit smaller but they make poppers just as well. Very prolific. One plant is all I need for a year’s supply of jalapenos. Last year I dehydrated some and ground them into jalapeno powder.

‘Maule’s Red Hot’ (OP, Shumway) – This was a freebie, “Sample variety. Hot cayenne-type" I got with my Shumway order last year. I grew one plant just to test it and it did great so I e-mailed them to ask the variety name. I see Baker Creek also carries them. The cayenne peppers were big and really long, maybe 6-7” and turned from green to red fairly quickly. I also dehydrated these and whizzed them up into my own cayenne powder. I will probably collect the seed this year.

‘Italian Pepperoncini’ (OP, Baker Creek) – I’ve not grown these before but wanted to try them as a small pickling pepper. According to the catalog, this is an heirloom from southern Italy with “…just a little heat. Small plants.”
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