Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Garden

I was reading some blogs today, mostly gardening related, which made me green with envy regarding climates other than mine with their tomatoes already in the ground. But honestly, this is the time of the year where you actually remember why you live in Iowa and why you suffer through winter. Everything's green and fresh and new.

We've been trying to get our yard into shape. Spring has revealed that our dog is much harder on our lawn than we realized. And since chemicals aren't an option, it's going to be a slow process to bring it back to life. Though I could easily be convinced to just to tear the lawn up, and put in more vegetable beds. I've never really understood our cultural devotion to grass and the energy and money we put into tending it. I've also been readying the garden, and tending seedlings.

In the garden, the peas are sprouting. But they did go in a little later than they probably should have.

Peas 042209-01

And a new experiment this year, potatoes. We are out of space in our beds, so we're trying these in some plastic storage bins that were gathering dust in the basement. So far, so good. We have sprouts. The idea is that once the plants grow taller, to add more soil until we get to the top. I think I'll plant some more (because I have lots due to a screw up with my seed order). I don't really know what I'm doing, so if we have a couple of potatoes in the end, I'll be happy.

Potatoes 042209

Potatoes 042209-01

And inside, under the grow lights, there's lettuce (ready to hit the garden), a couple of kinds peppers, eggplant, and multiple varieties tomatoes.

Lettuce Seedlings 042209-01

Seedlings 042209-02

Tomato Seedlings 042209-01

I'm planting hybrid tomatoes again this year. Mostly because last year was a complete and utter tomato bust. I'm not sure if it was my plants or the weather or what. I've heard, anecdotally, that last year was a bad year for tomatoes around here due to the wet wet spring and flooding. Or maybe it was just me.

I started all of these in cell packs, but transferred them last week to keg cups (I wonder if there's another name for these). Last year we used peat pots, but found they had a few downsides: (1) they are expensive, (2) they started to mold and disintegrate before the plants were ready to go into the garden, and (3) apparently the harvesting of peat is wreaking irreversible havoc on wetlands. The keg cups aren't perfect, by any means, but they can be reused and recycled. The plants are much happier in their larger accommodations and are hitting a growth spurt. The best part of the transfer was the dirt under my fingernails and the smell of tomato plants on my hands.

For historical purposes:
Snap Peas (Planted: ??)
Little Gem Lettuce (Planted: 3/5/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)
Little Caesar Lettuce (Planted: 3/5/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)
Adriana Lettuce (poor germination) (Planted: 3/5/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)
Bell Peppers (Planted: 3/15/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)
Jalapeno Peppers (Planted: 3/15/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)
Banana Peppers (Planted: 3/15/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)
Eggplant (Planted: 3/28/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)
Tomatoes (all varieties) (Planted: 3/28/09; Transferred: 4/16/09)

If we continue to have success, we will have far more seedlings than we have space. I will likely be handing them out to anyone who comes near me.

There will be other things in the garden as well, but they will either be purchased transplants from the farmer's market or directly seeded into the garden:
Cilantro (you either love it or hate it; we love it)
Basil (plants from farmer's market)
Rosemary (to use in preparing our potatoes, of course)
Cucumbers (last year was bad for tomatoes but really good for cukes)
Beans (lots of them)
A few more herbs... maybe chives, thyme, oregano, etc...

What we're not planting this year:
Broccoli (it was a space sucking failure last year)
Celery (it had great, strong flavor, but just wasn't worth the space/ effort)

I don't do flowers. Because, as Rykert likes to point out, you can't eat them (well, you can eat some of them, but they really aren't as tasty as fresh lettuce or peas or tomatoes or cucumbers). I may get a couple of hanging baskets of annuals for the porch, because once I'm in the greenhouse I won't be able to resist. But otherwise that's our plan.

Although we do have a sunny, and virtually unused, deck off our bedroom that could hold a few more pots...

2 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Ruby Banshee said...

Growing up in Iowa, my parents always grew potatoes (though I don't mean to foment the misconception that Iowa is the potato state). There is nothing like new potatoes from your own garden.
Unless, of course, we're taking about good tomatoes, grown in the hot sun. Portland is rad in many many ways, but the tomatoes out here suck. I don't think I've had a GOOD tomato in 3 years, and they used to be one of my simple pleasures.
The basil thrives out there too!
Do you have rhubarb? I can buy rhubarb in the store for $3.99 a pound, but it feels like a crime! In Iowa we never made a dent in our rhubarb patch, though we tried mightily.

Rykert said...

It's almost every-meal-with-salad time.

I see a 9:31 posting time. Law & Order must have been a rerun.

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