Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gardening Indoors in April

This year, like usual, we started our tomato, pepper, artichoke and eggplant seeds indoors in late February.  We found that the seeds we had from 2012 and 2013 germinated very well.  Older pepper seeds did not.  Our eggplant seeds did not germinate well.  The worst thing we found was that the Gardner & Bloome potting soil we bought was infested with fungal gnats.  

We had never had this problem before.  For weeks, I was vacuuming hundreds of them as they emerged from the soil and started flying around.  I had to lift each pot and vacuum the ones hiding on the bottom and around the sides.  I did this a few times each day.  I also bought yellow sticky traps which attract some of the adults (but not all).  Another thing I tried was putting potato chunks on the soil in some of the pots to attract the larvae.  Sure enough, after a few days there would be clear larvae 1/4" long squirming on the underside of the potato.  It was so disgusting.  

While fungal gnats are not supposed to kill plants, a number of our seeds would start to germinate and then disappear. We pulled up a few weak seedlings and found the roots were eaten.  Last weekend we divided our starts that had several in a pot and moved some weaker starts into fresh TAGRO potting soil.  We also sterilized the leftover infested potting soil by putting it in a metal pot, adding some water and steaming it on the burner on our outdoor grill.  We put a big dent in the population of gnats, so we're hoping the seedlings will start growing more quickly now.

Another thing that was different this year with our seedlings was that this was the first year we started our seeds under florescent lights in our back north & east facing room.  In the past, we had started them in our south facing dining room window and then moved them under lights in the back room after they were well on their way.  I feel like they took longer to germinate and are slower growing than when they have more exposure to natural sunlight.  Hence, we are kicking ourselves for not building a greenhouse this past fall/winter.  We definitely learned some lessons this year.

Artichoke start

Fungal gnats 

Tomato starts

Tomato start

Our grow light setup- bigger and better than last year, but still not big enough.

Out in the Garden in April...

Lettuce is sprouting in the cold frame.

Onions sets are planted and starting to grow.

Fava beans with newly planted Horseradish and some random dill sprouts.

Close-up of young Horseradish.

Asparagus shoot.  This is the 2nd year for the six little crowns I planted last spring.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring is here!

I'm so excited that spring is finally here.  This fall and winter have been full of changes for me... physical changes, changes in daily activities and priorities.  As many of you know, we've been growing a different little sprout than usual.  Rather than spending the winter researching gardening topics like usual, I've been researching everything baby and it's a whole different world.  Rather than building a greenhouse, we transformed a bedroom into a nursery.  That being said, we are gardeners and we've been spending as much time as possible getting the garden going before baby arrives.  

Here's a list of what we've accomplished so far this year:
  • Ordered 7 yards of bark to refresh the landscaping (only moved about 2% of it).
  • Reinforced our fencing around the veggie garden to keep the pup out.  Built a "composting fence."
  • Pruned our apple trees.
  • Taught two workshops for our community garden.  Espalier Pruning and Seed Starting.
  • Started tomato, pepper, artichoke, and eggplant seeds (been battling fungal gnats ever since). 
  • Planted peas.  We're planting a lot of shelling peas to have some to freeze later.
  • Planted horseradish for the first time.
  • Bought potato sets.  They are chitting in the basement.
  • Planted four types of onion sets- Red Candy Apple, Red Zepplin, Walla Walla, and Copra.
  • Pruned the raspberry and blackberry patch.
  • Pruned the grape vines (still not sure if we're doing it right despite watching a lot of youtube videos and researching it in books).
  • Planted spinach and lettuce.
  • Kicked-Off the season at Orchard & Vine Community Garden.  Great to see everyone again.  This year I stepped down from the steering committee, but Terry is still on it as Infrastructure Coordinator.  
  • Planned out what we're growing for the annual O&V Community Garden Plant Sale on May 18th.  Hopefully we'll be able to keep our starts going after baby arrives.
That's about all I can think of right now.  We're just so excited to meet our little sprout this spring and watch her grow.