Happenings on the Hilltop
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A special note to those who are still undecided about joining a CSA in the Owensboro, Bowling Green or Beaver Dam, KY areas...there's only one week left to take advantage of our 10% discount for joining us and paying in full by April 15th. We also have a payment installment plan available. We're pretty confident that you won't be disappointed. Email me, so I can send you the membership form.
It's hard to believe our CSA season starts in just a few weeks. Needless to say, we have been really busy. Everything is looking good and we are pretty close to being on the schedule I set up back in January. The greenhouse is overflowing with plants and we've been preparing and planting as quickly as we can. The grass has turned bright green from the last couple of rains and the trees are starting to leaf out. I love this time of year when everything starts coming to life!
This past week we planted out transplants of Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Kohlrabi. White, Red and Yukon Gold Potatoes, Red and Yellow Onions were planted a couple of weeks ago, as were Carrot seeds, which are all already growing nicely. The Celery seedlings aren't quite ready to plant yet. Over the next couple of days, I'll be planting the following seeds: Beets, Radishes and Sugar Snap Peas, followed by Lettuces, Greens and Spinach and all of the Herb plants I started in the house. Plus it's about time to plant more Potatoes and Onions. Next week we'll start planting the Tomato and Pepper plants in the garden, then the remaining vegetable seeds, Corn, Beans, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Squashes, Melons, Okra, etc. Some of these seeds will be started in the house today, as a guarantee that we'll have the right age of plants once they are planted out, since it looks like we're in for some seriously fluctuating temperatures over the next couple of weeks. There are several crops, that as the summer progresses, that we will continue to plant every couple of weeks to insure a steady supply of vegetables. By the way, I was asked about the Herbs that will be included and I want to clarify that unless you are interested in drying them for future use, they will only be included as small quantities.
The Strawberries are putting out new leaves and the Asparagus should start coming up in a couple of weeks. The fruit trees are putting out blossoms. Looks like we have a good colony of honey bees for pollination this year. They are swarming all of the fruit trees and flowering bushes. Now, if we just don't get a hard freeze, we should have lots of fruit this summer.
I finally got all of the Gladiolas bulbs, Peony roots, and Rose bushes planted. That will give us some nice flowers, along with the new annual flower seedlings that will go out later, for a flower bouquet once in awhile. Just a reminder, the flower bouquets aren't really a part of the CSA shares. This year they are just a way for us to say "Thank You" for joining us.
So, all in all, I'm really happy with the way everything is progressing. Looking forward to a successful and bountiful year!
Posted by Robin
@ 10:34 AM CDT
Remember the posting where I determined I was an unconventional gardener? Well, I just wanted to share the progress of some new growing techniques I've been testing. One is Winter Sowing and the other two are using Grow bags and Self-watering Planters.
I have 36 Winter Sowing containers with flower seeds and herbs. There are 21 half gallon juice jugs and 15 disposable pie pans with clear plastic dome tops. These containers and jugs of seeds were to be sat outside in the winter weather and would germinate at the proper time for each of them. I didn't get the Herbs outside soon enough and they started sprouting in just 4 days. They are all doing very well and are close to being ready to plant out in the garden. The flower seeded jugs did get moved outside and just started sprouting a couple of days ago, but appear to be doing well, too.
The 4 Self-watering Planters are home-made using a bucket and a colander. These are working great for the Cherry Tomatoes. They provide a constant supply of water, which is essential to tomato health. I'm planning on making up several more of these.
I started a few Potatoes in homemade Grow bags in the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago, just to see how these would work. I took a bunch of large dog food bags, punched a lot of holes in the bottom, turned them inside out and rolled the tops down. I put a few inches of soil in the bottom of each bag and planted a couple of seed potatoes. As they grow up, I'll unroll the bags a bit and stuff some straw into the bag. I'll continue doing this until the bags are totally unrolled and filled with straw, then, when the plants start dying back, there are suppose to be Potatoes that have grown in the straw.
I would love to post pictures of these projects and other sights around our place, but I haven't yet figured out how to post pictures here. Hopefully, I can figure it out soon!
Posted by Robin
@ 12:42 AM CDT
I'm still chugging along starting seeds. Actually, I have become obsessive about it. There is just something immensely rewarding about watching things grow. Have I told you this before? Well, I said I was obsessed. I'm planting extra seed to guarantee we have plenty of vegetables to share, plus extra to allow for seed or seedling losses. So far I've only had 2 trays of seeds that didn't germinate. But a fresh pack of seeds in new trays replaced the failed trays. A few seedlings bit the dust. My fault...I had the trays sitting at just the right height to be nailed by Samson's tail.
I wasn't too sure about growing Artichokes here, so I started 50 seeds. All are doing well! Way more than we need, but what the heck. Artichokes typically don't produce till the second year, after going through a winter. There's a technique to get it to produce the first year. The seeds are germinated and the seedlings raised for 6-8 weeks, then chilled for a couple of weeks, to trick it into thinking it had gone through a winter. If all goes well, we'll have Artichokes this fall.
I've started moving cold tolerant seedlings to the greenhouse. The less tolerant ones will remain in the house, nice and warm, until the night time temperatures stay above 50. Trying to avoid having to run a heater out there, so that we can keep our expenses down. A savings that we pass on to our members. Luckily, we have good southern light in the house, so we don't have to provide additional lighting.
I've started seed for the following flowers: Himalayan Poppies, Red Poppies, Nasturtium, Yellow Marigold, Petunia, Coleus, Aster, Phlox, Larkspur, Forget Me Nots, Sweet William, Balsam, Zinnia, Bachelor's Button, Baby's Breath, Purple Coneflower, Penstemon and Apricot Beauty Foxgloves. Still have a number of other flowers to start, but I ran out room. We'll have a beautiful selection of flowers for the weekly shares.
Not only am I being obsessive, I am also addicted. Gardeners are like kids in a candy store when they find a garden center. I tried rationalizing that I didn't need any more plants, but...but...but the prices were too good to pass up. Garden centers are such enablers! Of course I walked out of there with new plants. I now have three Azaleas, one large Jasmine, six peonies, and 4 rose bushes to plant. In addition to the 100 Gladiolas bulbs, I've yet to plant, or the other 500 I still want to order..Don't know where everything will be planted yet, but I'll find a happy home for them somewhere in the yard.
Now that the temperatures are starting to come up to where they are suppose to be, we've had just enough rain in the past three days, that we haven't been able to plant anything in the garden. No worries, though, as delivery doesn't start for 7 or 8 weeks. Just another reason for starting so many seeds early. By planting mostly transplants in the garden, we'll be gaining a few weeks on the season.
Hopefully next time I can start telling you about everything we planted in the garden. Till then...
Posted by Robin
@ 11:29 AM CDT
It's sure been nice to get this break from the dreary cold. We've been able to get outside to tackle some yard work, while getting a healthy dose of fresh air. One thing about living on a farm, the chores are never done. Yes, some can be put off for a little while. In most cases though, those small chores turn into big jobs if left undone for too long. We're currently working on finding the chicken coop and attached pen that were engulfed by monster weeds last summer. Just never had time to get to it before the weeds got away from us. Luckily, the previous bunch of chickens had been adopted out a few months earlier. I'm still debating on buying chickens this spring. It's always nice to have the very freshest eggs and they are quite entertaining. However, since we prefer to let our chickens free-range during the day, it would mean putting up about 500 foot of fence around the two new garden plots to keep them out. They have a tendency to want to taste just about every tomato, melon and squash in the garden, in spite of the fact that they are served the same things most evenings for dinner.
I finished seeding the last of the available seed trays with the rest of the pepper varieties and some flower seeds. Some of the seedlings started a few weeks ago will be ready to pot up to larger size pots soon, freeing up several more trays, which in turn will be reseeded with something new. I'm really pleased with how the seedlings are coming along. They'll be a good size for transplants to the garden in April.
I tried something new this year with some of the flower seeds, called winter sowing. The concept is fairly simple: take some kind of container (milk jug, large soda bottle, plastic take-out containers), open it up and poke some ventilation holes in the top, put a few inches of damp potting mix in it, scatter seeds, cover with a little more potting mix, close it and tape the container to secure, set outside in the cold and the seeds will magically germinate at the right time. No muss, no fuss, no seed trays. Yep, fairly simple! Only problem is I didn't do it soon enough and most everything has germinated already due to the warmer weather. Oh well, I did want to plant lots of flowers this year. It will just be earlier than I planned.
If it doesn't rain much tonight, we're going to plant the spring vegetables over the next couple of days. I'll tell you all about it next time....
Posted by Robin
@ 06:42 PM CST
Yes, spring is almost here! I saw my first Robin of the year yesterday. The sun is shining, The temperatures are close to the normal average. New growth is peeking out from under the dead foliage of last year's flowers. Won't be much longer...
The Early Golden Ace Cabbage, Snowball Cauliflower and Catskill Brussels Sprout seedlings are doing well. The Bright Lights Swiss Chard is beautiful, even at this tiny stage, with the red and yellow stems. The American Flag Leek seedlings look a little wimpy. I haven't grown them before, so I don't know if this is normal or not. I'll be starting another two trays of 72 today anyway, so I'm not too worried if the first tray doesn't do well. Leeks take 150 days to mature, which is why I'm starting them so early. The first tray of Broccoli still hasn't germinated after a month. It usually takes 1 1/2 to 3 weeks, but the temperature may not have been just right or it might have been a pack of old seed. Obviously, my checking on them once an hour didn't help either. I'll be starting another tray this week.
The first few years we owned our place, we concentrated on establishing bushes and trees, both ornamental and fruiting. We started with a hayfield and have been slowly "landscaping" it. We spent two summers building the soil in the gardens and putting in the Asparagus and Strawberries, plus Gladiolas, Peonies, Roses, Daisies and Hostas.
This year I'm adding lots of flowers. I'll soon be starting seed trays of Baby's Breath, Bachelor Buttons, Coleus, Phlox, Asters, Larkspur, Forget-Me-Nots, Dianthus, Sweet William, Cleome, Sweet Pea, Balsam, Pansy, Holly Hocks, Cosmos, Morning Glory, Zinnias and Sunflowers. Next year we may be able to offer bedding plants to our members.
I made a lot of entries this last few days, but I think this one brings everyone up to speed, as to what we are doing in preparation for the CSA, and how things are progressing. From now on, I'll probably add new entries just once or twice a week. Once things start greening up outside, I'll post a few pictures. There just isn't anything of interest to share at this time.
We still have a couple of memberships available, so if you know of someone who would want to join us, please pass our info along.
Posted by Robin
@ 09:18 AM CST
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