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Archive for November, 2008

It’s going to look like this*
Handrawn plans, since it's cold outside.

I am trying to keep my plans for next year reigned in, but it is proving to be almost impossible. I blame a number of things: the fact I have so many pots from last year, The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (review to come), knowing I have a reliable nursery and farmers market at hand for quality supplies, my out of control imagination and predisposition towards daydreaming, my desire to have something happening in my garden in all seasons. What’s a girl to do?

Working from my aforementioned plans, I’ve decided to add carrots (probably Scarlet Nantes) to the snap peas (very likely Sugar Snap VP instead of a snow pea, but maybe both if I get out of control) and greens on my list of cool season crops. I want to expand this list greatly in years to come, but I’m new to extended season growing, so I’ll see how these go this year. As you can see, I also am adding strawberries to my list of summer plants. Fresh strawberries are one of my favorite things and they shouldn’t be a problem to grow, so I have to have at least one for snacking/topping my ice cream or cereal, but I secretly want about 5.

Deciding what to do for flowers has been a pain because there are so many neat ones out there. Like I mentioned before, I really want to grow morning glories because I have always loved them, but they tend to be more like a weed in the garden. I won’t have that problem in containers though and I am going to mix them with moonflowers so I’ll have one vine blooming in the morning and the other in the evening. Because I still need more flowering vines apparently I am very interested in having some purple Cathedral Bells take over the railing leading to my front door. I will probably have one more pot with a flower on it and right now that is looking like it will be a balloon flower, an Astra series one that will be small and compact.

I’m so excited! I know that it might be a bit of a challenge trying so many new things, but I’m ready.

*Obviously even if everything goes perfectly, all the plants will not peak at the same time like in my fanciful drawing. Moonflower and morning glory bloom at opposite times, so getting this kind of overlap would be impossible, not to mention my tomatoes should all be ready at different times.

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A question

I’m going to have to start a substantial number of my plants from seeds in the spring and I’m trying to determine what the best way to start them is. Is it worth it to get one of those special little trays that every seed company has some version of? Do they work, or are they a waste of money? What I really want is an Aerogarden (especially a Pro 200) but they are so expensive…

Which reminds me, so often I look up gardening stuff online I run into stuff about growing pot. It is kind of amusing.

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Last year I didn’t put too much thought towards the details of fertilizing because I was grappling with the basics of taking care of a deck full of vegetables, but in these slow months I can turn my attention to what I am feeding my plants. Everything I have read has been full of praise for worm castings. They have a wide range of nutrients that are in a form easily used by plants, they improve soil aeration, they add lots of biological activity to your soil, they help hold moisture, you can’t burn your plants with them through overuse, they are ph neutral… all very good things that chemical fertilizers can’t offer.

Another big plus for me is that they are actually practical for me to produce on my own. I hate going to the store to buy things if I can make it myself! I don’t have bats or chickens to poop for me, but in January I am starting a worm bin. I figure the starting cost will be about $20-30 depending on where I can find worms and should be almost free to upkeep.

I recently bought the classic Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System by Mary Appelhof which I have flipped through a little. I understand the basics and hopefully when I read it throughly I will find answers to all the questions I have:

  • How much castings will my worms make every month?
  • How long can I store harvested castings before using them?
  • How quickly will unused nutrients wash away in the soil?
  • Are they too rich in nitrogen that they will discourage blooming or is that not a concern?
  • What nutrients are they lacking?
  • Do they cause salt build up in the soil or is that a problem only with chemical fertilizers?

I’ll let you know how it goes and post a review of the book when I get things set up, but like I said, this isn’t happening until early 2009.

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Just as I was feeling down about the end of the growing season, my ranunculus began peeking their heads through the soil. I had kind of forgotten about them! I also have a pot with a bunch of pink tulip bulbs. This is my first attempt at each, but hopefully they will both bloom in the spring. I was worried about the quality of the bulbs, but it appears there’s some life in them at least.

I totally forgot about my ranunculus

I got tired of protecting my coleus from the cold so I let it go, but my snapdragon seems fine with the weather. My Sweet 100 soldiers on despite my neglecting it for months. It’s really quite amazing. Imagine if I had been more attentive?

Snapdragons
Would someone please tell my tomatoes it's November?

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