Saturday, March 24, 2012

Monday 3-12

Monday I started back in the gardens getting seeds together and sowing the first sets into plug trays. I planted a few rows of various lettuce leaves with a fabric tunnel over half of them incase of a late frost. The lettuce was planted where the brassicas were grown this past year which I spent most last week weeding and preparing. I tilled all the areas I had been weeding with an older machine than I am used to, but once it got going it did a good job at cutting and digging quickly. Once the lettuce was in its fresh turned soil and was watered I worked to bring manure into the small greenhouse for its beds which are used for tomatoes and herbs later in the season. I shoveled about two wheel barrows of manure for each of the two beds and mixed it with the soil that was already there. I covered the beds with slates so the trays of seedlings could sit in the greenhouse with out the manure coming in contact with the young vunerable plants. I spent time slicing potatoes that would need to be planted later in the week. The idea is that when the tubers are cut into pieces containing a few eyes each, there will be more plants grown from each seed potatoe. The Fennels do not commonly use this method, but are eager to see it's results since they use potatoes almost daily and always run out of those in the gardens. The rest of the day Monday and tuesday was spent germinating seeds and planting rows of peas and beans. For most of the seeds, I used trays of individual small pots or a tray of plugs so each plant would be able to gain root structure and optimum nutrient uptake from the compost without competition with other seedlings. The compost they use here at Burtown is a local peat moss mix with small amounts of composted manure and organic matter with little to no weed seed or pathogens present. I would fill a tray of plug tray with the compost and use a second tray to indent the soil to sow the seeds. The seeds would be spread out in a sheet of paper and pushed off into place one at a time with a small plastic pointed label to try to ensure no more than one seed would take up each space. For these two days I was mostly focusing on Brassicas including broccoli cauliflower and cabbage. I used all early varieties that would be more tolerant of a late light frost and the shorter days which could then be harfvested earlier than the other varieties. The broccoli that is grown in the garden is three purple varieties which make up early, main and late crops. The cabbage is both white and red varieties along with a striped variety they are trying for the first year. In years past, cabbage is one of the first crops to run out given it is used a lot for soups and in main entres in the cooler months when not much else is available. James himself said he is not much of a fan of cauliflower, yet we planted a good amount to mix in with the brocolli. One variety was a organic variety named skywalker which I have heard has a great yield and great flavor even in the coolest of years. I planted a few trays of peppers in individual pots, which will be grown in the greenhouse along side the tomatoes. I had a Hungarian hot wax, and two sweet varieties which will need as much separation as possible where they are planted some they do not cross polinate and create fruits which are both sweet and spicy, but stay true to type. Carrots were planted in plugs, as well as a plain tray until transplant, which will most likely be easiest out of the plugs. In the previous year, carrots were planted directly in to the top soil and never germinated. When I finished all of the various early vegetables and moved them onto the slates in the small greenhouse, I then took time to thuroughly water everything with a mister. The humidity of the glass house without out side rain or mist to moisten the air, drys out the compost mix rather quickly within two days, so I must keep up with checking them and avidly misting as needed. I moved onto planting peas and beans, which would be sowed both in the ground and into pots to test which method would have better results in the long run. Lesley, the more knowledgable gardener in the house thinks this is too early in the year to be starting a majority of these  plants and especially too early for anything outside with the risk of a late frost. Even if the plants get an early start, a cold shock would likely stunt them or slow the growth enough that plants sowed early May would grow bigger and just as fast. I raked soft top soil into a raised row for both the peas and beans then hoed a small indentation down the line in which the seeds would lay. The seed was covered with a half inch to an inch of soil and watered. Lesley helped me put in place a number of plastic pipes and a row length net which would keep out birds looking for small sprouts or visable seeds. The nets had to be handled carefully because any small hole or loose area would allow bird to find thier way through and cause a mess within the tunnel. For the last part of the day, I spent time covering sprouts of sea kale with large pots and slates to keep out light.
This brassica sends out large asparagus like sprouts which are elongated when kept out of light. It grows naturally in coastal areas of europe and is sometimes used as an ornamental rather than a vegetable dish. I have never seen or eaten this vegetable and anticipate getting to use it.
I weeded the areas I had worked in, and straightened the nets for good presentation then put away the digging and sowing tools I had used to clean up. I picked a handful of kale on my way back to the house to cook a small snack for myself I call fried salad. Fried salad is mostly kale and spinnach cooked in oil and vinegar with herbs and some veggies such as tomatoes, brocolli or cucumber with some goat cheese and chic peas. I sometimes add some spicy salsa for flavor, but is good reguardless. Kale is quickly becoming an everyday and frequently used vegetable direct from the garden and full of vitamins. with a good day of work, I build a good appitite which is great to fill with healthy foods. Tomorrow I will plant the potatoes I cut Monday, which will likely require a full day of work for till, plow and plant.

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