Gardening Update – Early April

Well, we’ve been hard at work (work harder, not smarter) in the yard/garden the past few weeks.

We planted a bed of potatoes, a bed of potatoes & sugar snap peas (almost everything hates being near potatoes [more for me!], but sugar snap peas can tolerate them), and started a few trays of seedlings — tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. And we’re very close to finishing our cascading raised beds!*

Potatoes & Sugar Snap Peas

Oberon was not very helpful with our first bed of potatoes, so Wes and I snuck out of the house and took care of the larger bed ourselves.** We removed some of the excess fertilizer and put a thin layer of topsoil***

Not that thin of a layer – that was just he first bag.
Also, look at that neat fence that the sweet peas will (hopefully) be climbing!

We used the rest of the sprouting potatoes and luckily had room for 3 rows of sugar snap peas. First 3 of many, hopefully. Those things are delicious.

Seedlings (aka my constant and neverending failures)

They look like successes, don’t they?
It’s a trap!

I got so cocky when 20+ of my tomato plants sprouted. And the pride wenteth higher when a lot of peppers popped up, too! I had two trays, so I loaded up the second with brassicas – broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.

I was thrilled the tomatoes were growing, but they didn’t stop. They kept getting taller and taller: leggy might be necessary for a modeling career or a spider, but it’s disastrous for seedlings. I eventually figured it out:**** google says the most common reason is that they aren’t getting enough light. Tomatoes will die in frost, but google suggested anything above frost was fine. Since I didn’t have a grow-light (then) and the days were generally well above freezing, I began setting them out in the morning to get some fresh unfiltered sunlight. I was again feeling pretty good about myself; first few days were fine, they got some rain water, some sunlight, and my arrogance grew accordingly.

Supermodel tomatoes
I’m sure the moldy looking stuff doesn’t help either.

The fall cameth in the form of all of the tomatoes falling over one day (along with my hopes and dreams of delicious tomato sandwiches this summer).*****

I’m not exactly sure, but I think that maybe it was too cold for them when I took them down that day.

  • I was checking the weather and it was supposedly above freezing, but maybe it wasn’t yet?
  • Maybe tomatoes aren’t just frost-sensitive, but almost-frost-sensitive?
  • Maybe their comically long legs couldn’t handle the wind?

I don’t know. I put the lids back on (wrong again, Aly) and a few new tomatoes sprouted by the time my grow-lights arrived (maybe they will live?). But then within a day or two the peppers started looking bad – and a few of the broccoli (the tallest ones) started tipping over, too. I googled again, finally took the lids off (sorry plants!), and am hoping the roots aren’t all rotten already.

Cascading Raised Beds

So close to being done. But not really

Every reasonably dry day after work for the past hundred years or so (or week or two) I’ve been out there spading… and composting… and trying to finish the frame…*^ and pulling the piles of grass out after spading… so much dirt (so many worms!)

I’m using the bottom-most bed as a scientific experiment: do I need to spade/remove grass from under the manure?*^^

Thank god Bridgette is here: sifting through 7 beds of spaded dirt pulling out giant pieces of sod and shaking off as much dirt (or, more often scraping dirt off with our hands) is so much better with friends. Still sucks. But it definitely sucks less.*^^^ …I still don’t want to finish that top bed.

I gave my back a break from sorting through mud and tried to secure a few more pieces of the frame together. I had ordered some 5″ phillips head screws (don’t buy these!) and they failed at being screwed into wood almost as badly as I did with not killing seedlings. I was able to get a few more secured by using the last of the ones that actually work.*^^^^

Fun fact, cordless drills can drill maybe five of these enormous screws before th e battery runs out. 

But I digress. We teamworked our way through more digging, sifting, and composting… and we only have one more bed to go. … … … hopefully I won’t kill off all the seeds and plants that I’m hoping to grow in there.

*So close… but so much work yet to do.
**We’ll let him help with less precious produce.
***Mostly to make it look pretty 😉
****Because someone told me.
*****Drama, party of me. I know. I’m planting more, but it was so sad.
*^I ran out of giant screws to go through the 4x4s. See below (*^^^^)
*^^I might use the top one for an experiment too because I’m tired and lazy and don’t want to spade or remove grass from another bed 🙂
*^^^I would make Wes be my dirt-sorting friend, but he doesn’t like getting his hands dirty.
*^^^^I hate that Elliot was totally right – the stupid torq head screws work so much better.
**^^Such a redundancy.

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