|This is the area that was designated to become the |
'Upper Extension' of the Bottom Garden this year.
|Getting started - briers and tall weeds have been removed along with|
all the loose rocks that could be tossed to the side of the garden. We
later pulled that log out using Stormy, our Isuzu Trooper.
|Alan making another attempt at the|
largest rock we tried to move.
|The completed extension. And yes, I realized we spent a lot|
of time and effort removing rocks only to place some of them
back on top of the landscape fabric to hold it in place.
While all this hard labor has been going on outside, the garden activities are also in full swing inside the house. Every year I try to start some of my indoor seedlings earlier in the season. I have several plants I grow that have fairly long growing seasons and I want to give them as much of a head start as I can before transplanting them outside. The problem is I only have one south facing window, the kitchen window over the sink, and grow lights would require way too much power. With the limited natural light it is always a balancing act once my seedlings germinate – rotating the various flats so they all get enough sun so they do not become spindly before I can plant them outside. It has been so mild the past couple of months I have been able to put my seedlings outside much more than in past years.
|Seeds lined up on damp paper towel for germination.|
Part of the excitement of each year’s garden is determining what new plants and varieties I want to try growing. Some new garden family members are chosen for the challenge to see if I can grow them, while others are chosen to replace varieties that were not successful producers. My two tomato go-to varieties have been Amish Paste and German Red Strawberry. Both are determinate varieties which mean they all ripen within a short season (good for canning) rather than having a few ripen at a time over the entire summer. Both varieties are also very meaty, another plus for canning, however I tend to get frustrated with the German Reds because while they are supposed to be large and shaped like strawberries, many of mine are irregular shaped – more like conjoined strawberries. While they have a single stem, it looks like two tomatoes grew together. This year I am adding two new tomato strains to my arsenal – St. Pierre and Betalux. I am currently disappointed with the Betalux for their poor germination rate and failure to thrive, but maybe they will surprise me.
I was pleased with the ginger I grew last year, so this year I have added tumeric to the list. I also have plans to try more herbs as well. I have not had any luck with carrots since I started gardening . My plan was to not grow carrots this year, but then I remembered I did have success in saving carrot seeds last year. Carrots are a biennial plant, which means they do not produce seeds until their second year. Therefore, you must earmark a couple of your plants as seed producers and not harvest them.
|Carrots seeds I saved from last year - time for an experiment.|
I have also wanted to experiment with making my own seeds tapes, and as one of the problems with my past carrot patches was probably the fact that I did not thin the seedlings enough (I hate throwing away baby plants) this would be a good reason to make carrot seed tapes. If you are not familiar with seed tapes, a Google search describes them as “Seed Tapes are the perfect, no-waste way to plant. Each strip of biodegradable paper is embedded with perfectly spaced seeds; simply unroll into a planting furrow and cover”. You can buy pre-made seed tapes wherever you buy garden seeds but I wanted to make some with my carrot seeds. Here is the process I used:
Artisan Seed Tape!
- Use a strip of toilet paper (unused!) that is an easy length to work with. I made mine about 4 feet long as that length would become a row in my raised beds.
- Cut the toilet paper in half length wise and then fold the strips in half to make a crease down the entire length of the now half-width strips of toilet paper.
- Using a toothpick, place dots of flour-paste along the crease line. Space the dots the recommended distance for your seeds. In my case the carrot seed spacing is every two inches and toilet paper squares are 4 inches long so I placed a dab about an inch on either side of each perforation of the toilet paper.
- Use the same toothpick, it now has a sticky end, to pick up individual seeds and place one on each dab of paste. As for my carrot seeds, I was a little freaked out when I shook out my saved flower heads and discovered that individual carrot seeds looked very similar to ticks!
- Refold the paper strips along the crease to encase the seeds in the paper strip and allow to dry. Note: as I placed the dabs of paste for each seed I used the toothpick to make a streak of paste toward the long edge of the paper strip, this helped glue the paper strip together more firmly.
- When ready to plant, dig a furrow the recommended depth for your seeds and plant the strip.
Enough about the inside garden preps, time to go back outside. With the briers, rocks and trees cleared along with the landscape fabric laid and the fencing around the upper extension, now the hard work starts - bringing in truck loads and carrying it by 5 gallon buckets to fill various raised beds and containers. You may have guessed that the growing pains we suffer from are sore muscles.