Welcome Spring 2011

March 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Posted in gardening | Leave a comment
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Hello, hello, I’ve had the most wonderful weekend ever. In DC, we’ve had a strong hint of spring with two back-to-back days in the low sixties. Terrific for me! I never left the house and it couldn’t have been a better way to spend my time. Well, ok, I take that back, I took my little car to Johnson’s Garden Center on Wisconsin Ave for new dirt and fresh seeds.

After the last three years with unsuccessful tomato crops due to the lack of constant sunlight, I’ve decided not to plant a bazillion tomato plants. They’ve been a labor of love and heartbreak, always becoming diseased and producing few fruit. Instead, I’m growing smaller breeds of tomatoes: grape, cherry and pear. The kind that will fit comfortably in a pot and produce early. Wa-la!

To start the seedlings I’m trying something new, rather than plant seeds in the tiny peat moss pellets, I’m trying these totally biodegradable fiber seed starter pots. I’m thinking they will plant easier in the ground. I thought I really liked the peat pellets, but once you unwind the netting that contains the moss (which is not biodegradable), occasionally the peat falls apart and your delicate seedling’s roots break, leaving the plant unsalvageable. The fiber pots are meant to be planted directly in the ground—no messing with the roots. I will report the outcome once the tomatoes, peppers, melons, beans, zucchini, cukes, and herbs are ready to go in the ground.

[Scenes from my windowsill.]

Thanks to Martha Stewart’s Living (April 2011), I decided to get cutesy and label all my seeds with dried sticks. At one point Daryle looked out the window and sounding concerned said “Katie, are you carving those sticks with a vegetable peeler?” to which I called back “Martha Stewart said so…” he then said “Oh, Ok!” which made me laugh. If Martha says so!

My beloved raised bed.

Once the leaves grow in on this grandiose ash tree, it shades the raised bed for a good part of the day. There are very few vegetables that grow well in “partial sun.” For the most part, I like to call it my medicinal herb garden. But I just planted a bunch of greens which should be growing and ready to be picked by the time the leaves grow in.

For the heck of it, in the fall, I planted a bunch of garlic and shallots and they are coming up nicely despite the freezing winter.

Creeping thyme is already coming back in!

Look, I found a Detroit Red Beet from last year!

I’m almost embarrassed to put these pictures up. Yes, this is my backyard. It isn’t much to look at, I know. Lots of concrete, pebbles, weeds and dead leaves.

This area really gets the best sun in the yard and as you can see, I don’t have a ton of space, nor any ground dirt. The plan is to have the backyard landscaped (maybe this summer!!!) and plant a big raised bed in this area. For now, I am trying to grow the most with what I’ve got by using containers. A side note, I really prefer not to use containers because water evaporates so quickly. In DC’s scorching summers (which I honestly adore), a gardener can never skip a day watering or you’ll be sorry the following day.

So in the containers I planed a ton of lettuce (mixed, red leaf, and an earlier than usual type), spinach, arugula, kale, and red and white swiss chard. My greens did really well last year, and I’m hoping they will produce the same. We eat a ton of salads and sauteed spinach. I also want to try collard greens, but I didn’t find seeds at Johnson’s.

I was super careful watering the soil of the newly planted teeniest tiniest seeds. I love the fact that there is a mist setting on the hose’s nozzle. It’s perfect for just this.

And finally rows and rows and rows of peas. They are the best cold weather crop and produce gangbusters. I chose snow peas and sugar snap peas in alternating rows. Last year I grew a type of pea that needed to be shelled. They were delicious, but kind of a pain in the ass. At night, I generally don’t feel like spending 15 minutes removing peas from they’re pods. In a few weeks, I’ll need to get stakes for the peas to climb. If I’m feeling crafty, I may use some of the big sticks that I’ve been collecting all year long for kindling.

I would really like to intersperse carrots in this area. I couldn’t find my carrots seeds (I know they’re somewhere) so they’ll need to be added by next weekend.

That cute little wind mill is a christmas present from my dad. Up until I received the gift, I had no idea that those little lawn ornaments served a purpose—they’re meant to keep birds away from picking at your newly planted seeds! Best gift ever.

Happy Day Light Savings time. Life is good.


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