Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Better late than never?

As per my usual M.O., I have nothing ready to go in my winter “garden”.  It’s almost November, and I don’t have a cabbage or broccoli seedling to my name.  

This time, it wasn’t for lack of trying.  Ok, so maybe it sort of was a lack of trying.  But I managed to start a flat of seedlings in September.  An entire flat guys!  Eight or ten different varieties of plants.  About six of each variety.  

I was all excited about my new coconut-based organic seed starting mix.  A little dry, but it held moisture pretty well.  And the color change from wet to dry was so drastic that I could see the difference even from my upstairs bedroom window.  

I did everything right.  Appropriate watering, sunlight, protected from the more harmful elements.  I could taste the kohlrabi now.  It was going to be a glorious winter of cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli...  Mounds of snow peas...

Three days later, the first seeds popped their heads out of the dirt.  Awwww.... I love it when they’re so tiny like that.  Three tiny plants striving for the sun.  I couldn’t wait for their brothers and sisters to join them in that journey towards... feeding my face.

Days later, those three little seedlings were still standing.  But they were the only ones.  

My germination rates SUCKED!

To be fair, I was using seeds that were 1-2 years old.  But still, I should have had a better time of it than that.  I even over-seeded all of those cells.  So many tiny cabbage seeds wasted...  

I bought some new seeds.  They’re in, waiting for me to get my crap together again.  I just haven’t had the heart.  I keep looking at that abandoned flat and shake my head.  

  • “Where am I going to put them if they sprout?”  
  • “I just don’t have the time.”
  • “I’ll need to buy more potting soil.”

Whine, whinge, complain, bitch, moan.

But now I want some kale.  So I’ll be planting those suckers today.  Temperatures be damned.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep updating on their progress...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Soil Problem

In my area, the main component of my soil is fine sand.  Technically, as I learned today,  it’s called “Bonneau fine sand, 2 to 5 percent slopes”.  The USDA has this handy website that has data from soil tests from all over the country, so if you’re really excited to learn about your soil’s “parent material” (mine is sandy and loamy marine deposits), you should check out this website: http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/

Right, the reason I brought up my soil composition is because of my plans for my new (since August) tiny backyard.  I have these plans.  They’re for growing plants.  In the dirt.  Novel, right?  Now, I’ve been a small container gardener for a couple years now.  And it’s ok.  I can stick a plant in a pot and it’ll usually do pretty well.  I’ll get some veggies, and I usually won’t kill it.  But that’s not how I was raised to garden.  I like to really get in there.  Digging deep, dirt flying, soil up to my armpits.  Did I mention that my boyfriend calls me his dirt child?  Yeah...

Anyway, this sand, this planting medium that I’m plagued with, isn’t the greatest for holding organic matter.  Compost, manure, leaves, mulch, they all disappear after a time.  And I don’t mean that it breaks down (though it might...), I mean that it’s gone.  Poof.  Like it gets eaten, or blown away, or carried off on a swift current.   According to the USDA, my area’s typical profile looks something like this:

  • 0 to 9 inches: Fine sand
  • 9 to 29 inches: Fine sand
  • 29 to 38 inches: Fine sandy loam
  • 38 to 84 inches: Sandy clay loam
That’s a lot of sand to amend.  And the sand is eating my soil amendments.  From what I’m told, it’s not impossible to amend sandy soil, but it requires a lot more work and money that I am willing or able to spend.  

So I’m going to ignore the sand almost altogether.

Enter the world of raised beds.  

From my research, I have narrowed my options down to three.  
  • Hugelkultur
  • Lasagna or Layered beds
  • Purchased garden soil
Each has its pros and cons, and I’ll be going over all of them in depth in later posts.

Now, I’m still working on the logistics of this.  Do I want to contain my raised beds, or just build a pile of stuff?  Should I dig into the sand?  Or just lay everything on top?  I have many questions, and I’m excited to find my answers.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Moving on up! Erm, right?

This is more for my personal reference than anything else.  But if I find it useful, maybe someone else will, also.

The USDA released a new hardiness zone map in January of this year.  It appears that I have been bumped.  Instead of staying in zone 8b, my city has, by the skin of its teeth, been moved into 9a.  Not a huge difference, to be sure.  But this may actually require some attention.



Where was I?

What happened?

October is sorta close to June, right?  Right?  Anyone?

Life got away from me, I guess.  Or rather, I got distracted by living my life and quit writing anything down.  It happens.  In fact, now that I'm settling into a new routine, I have more ideas than ever.

New place, new ideas, new dirt...

I'm ready to get (re-)started.