The Responsible Survivialist


In the Garden this Week, Some Good and Some Bad
May 3, 2010, 12:48 am
Filed under: Gardening

I had both good stuff and bad stuff happen this past week in this year’s garden, though eternal optimist I am, the good out weighed the bad.

Stevia, Lettuce and Broccoli – FAIL:
I lost the entire first crop of Stevia. It was my fault too, I had put the six peat pots under a new lamp to get some heat and higher light to them. I didn’t realize the heat would dry the pots as fast as it did. Lost all but one plant and its not doing well. Probably going to lose it too.

Since I seeded each peat pot heavily with 10-12 seeds each, with the intention of planting them in individual hanging baskets, I only had 10 seeds left in the original packet. I’ve started those individually in my seed starter kits. I hope they come up because of all the plants I’m growing this year, this one had my real interest. Sugar will be at a premium as things get tight in coming days and I definitely have a sweet tooth. A plant that a few leaves from can sweeten your morning chicory coffee will be worth its weight in gold.

Or some other important bargaining item…

I also made the decision to uproot my lettuce and broccoli sprouts and start fresh. Both plants were early sprouters and suffered from too little light, which made them very long and spindly. I could have tried burying them deep but last week I was still another week until I had their bed ready, so I decided to cut my loss there and reseed them as well.

The good news for my new seeds is I picked up a 4 foot two bulb florescent lamp and a couple of grow bulbs. I now have the seed starters about 2 inches from them and they seem to be doing better this time.

While I was at the hardware store getting the lamp, I also picked up a couple of packets of carrots. Since Seed Saver was out of the “Paris Market” carrot seeds, I ended up just going with some “Short n’ Sweet” carrots from Burpee for this year. I won’t be able to harvest seeds to carry over to next year, since they are hybrids though.

It will remind me to order early next year.

Corn and Sunflowers in the Ground:
I decided to trim back my sunflowers to just the six that were doing the best. That is I kept the shortest ones since there too the early sprouters got lanky from insufficient light. The corn did an amazing job of sprouting. With the one the squirrel ate it left me with 15, which I divided in half for the mounds. Three sunflowers and seven and eight corn respectively.

Here are the two mounds in their bed. The lilies at each end are coming out tomorrow for re-planting at my neighbor Joyce’s new house.

corn in the ground

Here’s a close up

corn in the ground closeup

You can see I made a small berm of a few inches around the plants. This is to help when I water and protect them if I get a bed flooding like I did in the cucumber bed. I dug out to about 12 inches deep then put in 6 inches of compost, then topped that with the Mel’s Mix I make (50% compost, 25% vermiculite, 25% peat moss). It holds water well and is nice and lopse to promote root growth.

The sunflowers were a bit limp the first day or two, but now they are doing well. The squirrel hasn’t bothered them that I could tell, but to be safe I sprinkled a heavy dusting of red pepper around the top of the berm which is supposed to keep the bugger away.

Moringa – Nipped in the Stem
The squirrel (or something else) killed two of the moringa plants. I found them bitten through at the base. I wouldn’t have been as pissed but what ever got them, didn’t even eat them.

I’m going to put chicken wire cages around them tomorrow, and probably re-seed one seed in each of those two pots. The other plant in them is still a bit small and I’m worried their extended time in the newspaper starters may have root bound them. That’s a condition where the roots of a plant get tightly wound up in the container. I did loosen them some when I planted them but maybe not enough.

On the up side, the other four are doing very well and growing.

Next Batch of Seeds – Melons and Beans, and More Beans:
I started my beans, the melon and the pumpkin last week in peat pots. Their seeds were larger than what could be started in the seed starter kits so I picked up some peat pots at the store, with the lamp.

Man, do they sprout!

second batch of seeds

The three tall ones in the right corner are “Yardlong Beans” which I purchased through Echo Books. They are the people I got my moringa seeds from and active in promoting agriculture in the Third World.

From their site:
When the weather is too hot and humid for green beans to grow, these beans thrive. Pods are cooked like green beans when they are about 8-10 inches long. (We have never really seen a pod that was a yard long, but they easily reach about 20 inches!) They are actually a cowpea (the same species as black-eyed peas) that has been developed especially for its pods. If the pods become too mature to eat, the seeds can be dried on the vine and cooked like black-eyed peas. Vines definitely require a trellis.

St.Louis can have some very hot and humid weather, so the fact these plants like that is a plus. I have some plans for some shading if it looks like we’re in for a hot, hot Summer. The conditions seems ripe for it too. El Nino is back in the Pacific and the last time it was this strong was in 1998 which was the hottest Summer on record. Given that the place I work has no air conditioning, that almost guarantees a hot Summer here.

Here’s a close up of them. That’s less than one week’s worth of growth too!

yard long bean sprouts

Potatoes – The Best For Last!
After a slow start, my potatoes are doing just great.

potatoes third week

Its hard to tell in the picture but there are another dozen or more small sprouts coming up too.

Now if you don’t want to go to the whole trouble of a bin like I have, check out Kate’s latest post at Living The Frugal Life. She does her potatoes in 5 gallon buckets. She also has some interesting thoughts on bin versus bucket growing that you should read if you plan on doing potatoes this year.

By the way, here’s that first plant that sprouted I talked about last week. A big difference a bit of time makes.

hulk potato

Maybe Bruce Banner has been slipping into my garden and spraying green radioactive growth juice on them…LOL.

Tomorrow:
The weather forecast is for sun tomorrow, so I hope to get a lot done:

– Lilies out of the bed
– Beans planted along the fence
– Melons and pumpkin planted
– Bed on the wall composted and prepped for planting
– Okra planted
– Cages made for the moringa plants, seeding in two planters

And if I get all of that, then I have to start on getting the plants out of Joyce’s flower bed on the fence out and put into planters for their move. That’s where the tomatoes and carrots are going. I have a few weeks before those are ready to plant so I’m not pressed for time on them. I also have to get the second Three Sisters bed built. Luckily this is a week I only work Wednesday and Thurday so I hope to report a lot of progress next week.

More to come…

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