Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Walk Around the Yard

88 degrees yesterday...close to that again today...

This can't be good for the plants -- it's not summer yet. Seasonal temps are more like in the 60s, and we're supposed to return to that tomorrow. I even heard something about overnight temps in the 20s in a few days. So plants pushing their blooms due to the warm weather may be in for a bit of a shock.

Nevertheless, a walk around the yard finds some asparagus, blueberry buds, woodland daffodils, Autumn Joy sedum sprouts, the hens taking a dust bath, and a lazy dog:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Springing of Spring

April 25. Temps are supposed to hit near 80 today -- the first time this year we've seen such weather. I have a whole day of nothing ahead of me, which translates into a whole day of poking around the yard -- if that's what I feel like doing. And somehow, I think what I feel like doing may involve pansies.

So what's happening out back? I sprayed my apple tree yesterday with horticultural oil with the intent of killing off any scale on the tree (see above). I didn't really find scale on the apple tree, but I did find some (I think) on it's pollinator, a crab apple tree. I've lived on our homestead for nearly six years and have never sprayed the gnarly old Cortland tree. But neither have I eaten a nice apple from it. So this year, I got off my "organic apple" horse with the intent of enjoying the tree's fruits. It's just one of those things that needs a little help, I guess. From what I've heard at the greenhouse, no apple grower worth his/her salt can grow an edible apple in Vermont without some level of spraying.

So yesterday, on went the dormant oil -- to be applied before the buds pop. I thought I would be overcome by the fumes and toxicity of it, of course, so I armed myself with long clothes, sunglasses, and a bandanna around my mouth. But the spray didn't smell or kill me. It's just an oil, after all. Think of spray-on sunscreen.

The next application -- of a more organic pesticide (pyrethrum) that I think is derived from chrysanthemums -- gets sprayed on the day the tree drops its blossoms. I've heard that you can apply this spray every month or so, but I'm not sure I'm going to take it that far yet. Baby steps for me and this spraying business.

In other news: The garlic is about six inches high. The asparagus hasn't poked up yet. New shoots on my three roses. I wasn't able to save but two pepper plants from the Attack of the Family. And a few tomatoes have re-sprouted. I'm definitely going to be visiting a greenhouse for plants this year.

Question of the Day: To mulch or not to mulch yet? Is the ground warm enough? I read an advice column this morning that suggested you need to give the ground enough time to really thaw out before you mulch, or the mulch will insulate the cold. So I'm going to wait a few weeks. I still have plenty of beds to clean out anyway.

Question of the Day #2: When should I plant potatoes? I've acquired the seed potatoes and split them up. They're staying warm in the greenhouse, but I'm not sure when they should go in the ground. I've heard when the soil hits 50 degrees. How do you test that? A meat thermometer in the ground?

Funny how I've been experimenting in a garden for more than half my life, and I still have a ton of questions about it all. Maybe that's part of the appeal of it all. It's never boring and always challenging.
With that, out with this blog today and in with some warm and windy sunshine...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Good Thing I Don't Do This for a Living

I've been in California for work all week. Before I left, I had 8 pepper seedlings and a handful of tomatoes germinating. I came home last night, and I have only a couple half-dead little peppers left. The family let us down. They told me while I was gone that not many of my seeds had sprouted. Because when you don't WATER sprouts in warmish weather, they die back to nothing.
Funny thing is that Mia said Dad told her not to water earlier in the week. "Oh, you don't need to water. Mom just did that," she said that he said. He tried to deny it, but Will threw him under the bus: "Yeah, Dad. You did say that," he ratted.

Additionally, I was hoping to come home to daffodils in bloom, and it looks like I have at least another week to wait. The grass is turning green, but that's the only outward sign of spring life out there.

So Max and I got busy this morning and replanted the tomatoes and peppers. It's late to plant seeds, but what the heck. We added melons, broccoli, peas, and marigolds to the mix.

This afternoon, I'm going to prune my apple tree. Once again, I'm probably a little late with this too, but better late then never.
Boy, this gardening business sure is a live and learn proposition, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Losing Hope

My seeds are in there trying hard to grow. Vermont in April sure can be a challenging time for a gardener.

And for garlic:

They're cold, and there's not a lot of weather hope in store for this week.

Makes me think I should just resign myself to buying plants.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Early April Status Check

Six peppers have hatched -- indoors -- and a few spinach leaves are showing in the hydroponic system in the greenhouse. The garlic is also two inches above the soil in the garden itself, and the blueberries, with lots of buds, look like they're going to have a good season.

I planted tomatoes, some coleus, and flowers in a flat today, and to help them along, I broke down and invested in heating mats. Without direct sunlight (which you can't count on around here), both my house and my greenhouse are too cold for seeds to happily sprout. So I've resorted to gadgetry and have set it up in the greenhouse. Also turned on the grow lights. Will be interested to see if it all pays off.

Tomorrow, I'm going to see about ordering a pear and a peach tree. I also need to look into spraying the old apple tree. Since we've lived here, I haven't had the nerve to spray the tree because the process just seems so toxic, but we've never had an apple we could eat due to scale either. So I may break down here too. After all, I'm sure the apples we pick in the orchard have been sprayed.

It's early April and still damp and chilly. Still, I pulled a tick off the cat yesterday.