Rough week (or three)

April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am (Uncategorized) ()

It’s been a rough couple of weeks around here. A cat I bottle-raised from 1 week old died unexpectedly at only 7 1/2 years. Note to other rescuers, fosters, and adopters: while it is very unusual for a kitten exposed to FIV to remain positive into adulthood, it is possible. Retesting after 6 months of age is probably a good idea. I wouldn’t have done a whole lot differently, but knowing it was coming would have possibly saved some anguish.
So yeah, my fluffy part maine-coon boy, affectionate cat of very little brain, has left us. Not how I planned to spend my April.

In the weeks while he was ill, keeping up with my offline garden journal was about all I could manage, and I’m a little behind there, too. But here’s a current rough outline of what’s growing where. Compared to some of the lists I see in my travels around the world of blogs, it’s not much, but for me, it’s really rather a jump from previous years.

In the garden:
There are now three raised beds in the side lot beside the house, which have been there about a month. 2 of them are mine, and a third belongs to a friend who lives in a very dark apartment. All of them are 4’x6′, and 8″ high, a compromise to get the most square footage within my very limited budget. I was planning taller, but separating into two shorter beds will give me a lot more planting space, and hopefully my back won’t complain too much.
Bed one, to the west, is coming along fairly well. I used up most of the rest of some old paper strip beet seeds (detroit dark red), interplanted with a carefully space row of spinach (merlo nero), and there is an abundance of seedlings growing. Not all the beets germinated, but like I said, old. I have more than enough for a first planting. (Okay, so 3 6′ rows is more than enough, period, but I love beets, and if I get some good production out of them, pickles will be happening.) I have more fresh beet seeds, including goldens, to plant for succession a little later on.
Using a more square-foot gardening style, I have two blocks of baby bok choi growing in that bed as well. A block of carrots has been planted, but I’m not holding out much hope. I suspect the ground is crusting just a little too much for decent germination. I’ve been reading up on alternate methods, and will implement a couple soon. Peas finally went into the ground a week or so ago, and are germinating nicely.
Lastly, the first 5 cabbage seedlings and 4 chard seedlings were transplanted out a week ago, and all seem to be thriving. The chard is actually my first installation in the eastern bed, which will also hold quantities of tomatoes and herbs, on down the line.

Under the lights/on the porch/wherever there be room:
The tomato count has gotten truly out of hand, and I am once again trying to figure out where I will put them all. I currently have 9 surviving seedlings from my own planting, which are of course way behind what has been procured elsewhere, because I started a bit late, but that’s alright. 3 or 4 of those baby plants will be adopted to other homes, but I’m hoping to keep the rest growing, unless any appear terribly weak. Additionally, I have 7 varieties on order to arrive early May (one plant of each), and picked up two more varieties from a local nursery as a freebie for attending a class they offered last weekend.
Speaking of out of hand, the number of pepper residents also took a jump. I was planning around 4 plants, but we’ve already hit 7 varieties, and my boyfriend is still looking for another he wants to try again. I was only planning to grow Carmen in the sweet pepper family (I have a plant on order along with the tomatoes), but my mother loves sweet peppers and looked suitably disappointed, so I caved and bought her a pot of very active blushing beauty peppers. It’s actually three plants, and I’m expecting to have to sacrifice one or two to maintain plant health, but we’ll see how they do.
For hot peppers, I was planning Serrano (my last plant lasted two years) and Poblano, and the boyfriend wanted to locate a Chinese 5-colour again. Sadly, we still haven’t found the 5-colour plant. But in the process of trying to find a poblano (we now have two), we ended up with a hot lemon, a peach habanero, a serrano, and an anaheim. Again, where am I to put all these?
Also still under the lights or nearby, waiting for their day, are three pots of cucumber seedlings, growing quite well, four pots of eggplant, 5 more seedlings each of cabbage and rainbow chard, a bunch of onions (hardening off at the moment), and many many herbs. There are also two pumpkin babies, gathered on a whim from a local pumpkin that kept all winter, but we have no idea if it crossed in the field last year, so this could be interesting. I figure I’ll make them a little hill in the back of the garden area, let them sprawl, and see what comes of it.

This weekend’s goals:
Transplant onion seedlings into the east bed, and put in a first planting of bush beans (west bed) – we should be past frost. If the ground is just a bit too cold, and I loose one batch, it’s a risk I’m willing to take for the possibility of green beans soon. The other must-do is to get the row outside the beds hoed, and get onion sets in, as well as prepare the ground for the seed potatoes. If I can locate some good sweet potato slips soon, I’ll prepare some ground for them, as well, and make the hills for the incoming pumpkin.

I learned this last weekend about the local weather station site that keeps tabs on soil temperature. This has become my new toy, and I’m watching like a hawk to learn the patterns, and make calls on when to plant what.

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