First plantings of the year

I planted the onions, radishes, carrots, cilantro, spinach and chard today.

Put the tomato, pepper and basil plants outside for about 5 hours. Meant to keep them out for only an hour. Whoops. Fortunately they were in the shade the whole time but one tomato plant is looking a bit brown. Thankfully I have way more plants than I can actually use.

Garlic planted last fall and lettuce planted a month ago is coming up nicely. Can start eating fresh salads soon!

Lorz Italian garlic

And just so I remember how early spring came this year….

I can’t believe how green everything is compared to last year at this time. I remember building the raised bed boxes last year and being so cold, sneaking in a few minutes here and there when it was warm. This year we’ve already mowed our lawn twice, the lilacs and crab apple trees are in full bloom and we’ve slept with our windows open a couple nights. It’s 71 as I type this.

Fruits of my labor

I was looking back through pictures on my camera and realized I never posted these…

The yellow pear tomatoes weren’t wonderful fresh so I decided to try making “sun” dried tomatoes in the oven. They ended up being more like a cross between sun dried and caramelized tomatoes and were so amazingly delicious. I cut the tomatoes in half and scooped out the seeds. I laid them all in the pan, cut side up and drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt. I also added a few cloves of garlic. I baked them at 170 degrees (the lowest setting on our oven) for about 5 hours. They froze really well.

Quick and easy pickles from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I made half with regular vinegar and half with apple cider vinegar. They were both good! My 2 year old niece ate almost an entire jar herself.

2012 Gardening Calendar

Last year, I didn’t have a set schedule for anything in my garden.  I went by the range of planting dates on the U of M Extension website and kind of did it as I felt like. It turned out okay but there were some days where I forgot to plant or watch for something and then had to scramble to catch up. Oops.

This year I printed a really basic calendar for April – October and wrote down what I need to do on certain dates. I used the U of M planting dates, some info from the Mother Earth Gardens seed starting class and the back of my seed packets. Where there was a date range, I went with the earlier dates because we had such a mild winter and warm spring. I’m sure I’ll add or change things as I go but this should be a good start.

Seed Starting Class

I was pretty successful last year as far as seed starting goes. My only problems were due to fungus and hardening off (or a lack of hardening off, as the case may be). Nothing life shattering, but it doesn’t hurt to learn more. I went to Mother Earth Gardens seed starting class taught by someone who actually starts seeds for a living. It was definitely worth the couple hours and I learned a ton.

  • You need 1 warm and 1 cool bulb which equals full spectrum of light.
  • 14 – 16 hours of light
  • After germination, room temp or slightly cooler is best for growing (65 degrees)
  • Spend a week hardening off. Decrease water. Example: Day 1 put in shade for a couple hours, day 2 half day shade, day 3 half day part shade, day 4 half day part sun, day 5 half day sun, day 6 full day sun, day 8 full sun… give at least one night outside before planting.

Garlic

Planted garlic today. Inchellium Red in cucumber bed. Lorz Italian in tomato bed.

tomatoes!

Yay!!

I couldn’t resist. After I took this picture, I ate the yellowest tomato, the one right in front.  It was sooooo yummy, even though it wasn’t totally ripe.   There is nothing like a just picked home grown tomato still warm from the sun.

squash vine borer

Over the weekend, I noticed my squash and pumpkin vines were wilted.   I assumed the stretch of days where it felt like 100 – 115 with the humidity was the culprit.  Well, the heat wave passed and they were still wilted.  I checked the soil yesterday thinking they weren’t getting enough water and noticed some strange looking yellow sawdusty, pus-y stuff on the roots.

I touched one of the roots to see what it was and the whole thing broke in half and it was filled with fat white larva.  I screamed like a little girl, of course, because I touched the disgustingness with my bare hands.

After some searching, it turns out it’s squash vine borer.   The squash vine borer is a moth with a red body and black wings that hatches from its cocoon in late June/early July.  They lay eggs near squash, pumpkin, melon and cucumber plants.  The eggs hatch about a week later and bore their way into the stems of the plants.  The yellow sawdusty, pusy-y looking stuff is called frass and it must be the innards of the plants.  The larva eat the inside of the stem and block the flow of water to the rest of the plant.  After a month, they leave the plant and go into the soil until they turn into moths the next summer.

From my research online, the most effective way to control them is to prevent them from laying their eggs near the plants.   In late June, you can put a yellow bowl or pan (they’re attracted to yellow) of water in the garden.  Check frequently for the moths.  When you see them, cover your plants with row covers, making sure they moths cannot get under them.  Leave the row covers on for a couple of weeks.  I’ll probably go this route next year and sprinkle diatomaceous earth on area around the roots for good measure.

If the larva get into the plant, you can slit up and down the stem and kill the larva as you go.  Then you have to heap soil over the cut portions and keep it moist.  I tried this but the larva were a good foot up the stem and there’s no way I could mound soil over it because I have the plants trellised.   I’m so sad because I have some good size fruit on the plants.

There are chemical options but I didn’t bother looking closely at them because I don’t want to use chemicals in the garden.

One of the most important things is to destroy the plants with the larvae to lessen the impact the following year.