Sunday, March 19, 2017

Should we Toss in some Seeds?

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most concerned, I'd say many gardeners are at an eleven with worry over the lack of water this winter. Not to make light of this situation, but "eleven" reminds me of a famous movie scene from Spinal Tap - These go to 11.

There's not a thing we can do about warm, dry weather except pull out the hoses and water the most vulnerable dry soil areas of the landscape - new tree plantings, new anything that was planted last summer or fall and don't forget south and west facing lawns. I'm just as focused on the birds, they seem parched and SO thankful when I fill up the saucer on the top of the bird bath each day with fresh water. The saucer is much easier to deal with than frozen water in the concrete bird bath. 
  
One easy way to keep plants and soil cool is to add more mulch. A thicker layer of mulch will keep beds colder longer. This was reinforced earlier today in the vegetable garden when I pulled back a thick layer of mulch on one of the raised beds to toss in some spinach and radish seeds.

Not only was the soil cold to the touch, but areas were still thawing out and wet. The worms and centipedes were having a party under the darkness of the blanket of packed leaves and grass tucked over them last fall. They didn't seem too happy to be exposed to light, but in good stride they just wiggled at me without a blink and took a dive downward. By the time I grabbed my camera for a still shot most of them had retreated.  

 

By the reading on my soil thermometer it's still too cold for direct seeding (35-40 degrees minimum for the most hardy cool season vegetables). The bed where I just pulled back the mulch read 24 degrees at only a depth of two inches. In contrast, a close by unmulched raised bed that is fully exposed to the sun with a mostly decomposed fall cover crop was 30 degrees. I better wait to toss in the seeds, but I can cover the area in plastic to warm it up and who knows, if this summer weather continues I might be serving Easter egg radishes by Easter!
       

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Warm Season Vegetable Seeding Chart

Tomato seedling about to get potted up to next size
Below is the fourth in a series of seeding charts. This one is for warm season vegetables. Most indoor seeded warm season crops need 6-8 weeks to grow to transplant size prior to getting moved outside and getting acclimated to life in your real world garden or container - called hardening off. Peppers and eggplant need a couple more weeks so can them started soon (like yesterday).
 
Also notice that some vegetables can be directly seeded in the ground (green beans, corn, squash) - well after the last spring frost when soils and temperatures have warmed up. So if you don't have seeds purchased for May planting, get going!