Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spring Garden Update & Lessons Learned

Lessons I've learned so far in 2014, the first year starting seeds and gardening in our new house:

  • I need to pay more attention to my seedlings. In the last house, I went down to the basement almost every day for one reason or another, so it was natural to check on them. In this house, the basement is strictly storage so I have to intentionally go down there. I haven't done it enough, and my seedlings have gone dry too often.
    • Aaron has a genius idea to solve this problem that includes creating a reservoir that keeps a constant level of bottom water in the seed trays. We'll see if this comes to fruition in 2015.
  • I need to water our raised beds more often. One of the benefits of raised beds is increased drainage. The beds at this house are twice as high as the beds at our last house, and it seems like they dry out twice as fast (but they give me more soft, loamy dirt to grow root vegetables in). My ultimate plan is to have a drip irrigation system installed, and water multiple times per day on a timer. Since that includes installing over 100 feet of underground, outdoor plumbing, it's not on the list for this year.
  • Adding mulch after direct seeding does more harm than good. While trying to combat the previously mentioned watering problem, I covered newly seeded peas and radishes with straw. It seems to me that they've been very slow to come up. This could be due to a variety of factors, but I think I'll stick with mulching after plants are established from now on.
  • I need to digitize my seed-starting calendar. I diligently mapped out my seed-starting calendar, but left it in the basement (see lesson #1). I also packed every week's seed starting activities on weekends. While I didn't miss any major dates, I could have had a less stressful winter/spring if I had done just a little bit of work each day, and had electronic reminders pop up on my phone so I wouldn't forget. Dear internet, is there an app for that?
  • Next year, I'm going to try sowing onion seeds in cells. I always sow them by broadcasting in a container and just grow a clump of onions. I bet they'd develop a lot more before transplanting if they weren't so crowded.
  • I definitely need to cover my beds (either with mulch or a cover crop) over the winter. The beds that were covered with thick layers of landscaping straw were almost weed free this spring. The other beds looked like small weed forests. If it weren't for the help of my husband and parents, I'd still be weeding those beds. I'm not sure if I"ll just mulch everything next year, or try planting something like rye that should keep the weeds out (and enrich the soil).
  • While I'm excited that I'm going to recoup a majority of my seed starting costs by starting seeds for friends, I need to plan that better as well. I should either close orders earlier so I have more time to get a handle on what will be started, or just have a first-come, first-serve plant sale in the spring. If anyone reading this would have a preference for buying seeds from friends, let me know!
That's all the lessons that come to mind at the moment...plenty for it just being the first weekend in May.

Here's what I accomplished this weekend:
  • Transplanted 200 onions (8-8'foot rows)
  • Transplanted 25 onions to be harvested as scallions
  • Transplanted 75 leeks (3-8's rows)
  • Transplanted 4 broccoli plants
  • Transplanted 2 cauliflower plants
  • Transplanted 5 celery plants
  • Transplanted some "miracle chives" - they survived the winter in a dark garage!
  • Seeded 120 carrots (8-5' rows)
  • Seeded approximately 100 peas (2-8' rows)
  • Seeded 48 radishes
  • Started seeds for cucumbers, squash, zinnias, and corn
  • Up-potted some broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce I'm holding for friends
I still have a lot more seeding on my list, which I'm hoping to accomplish throughout the week.

I'm very happy with the soil quality in the raised beds—it's full of wriggly worms! I used a garden blend topsoil mix that had a lot of compost in it, and it seems to be full of life. The garlic (the only thing really growing right now) is kicking butt!

No comments:

Post a Comment