Monday, April 14, 2014

Ready for planting

Although the weekend weather was chilly, I spent a fair bit of time outside getting the beds ready for planting in early April. The day started by putting the walla-walla onions outside to harden off a bit. We picked up these starts at Apache this week and some water has really perked them up. 

Around back, the much abused tulipa tarda has come up. This long ago gift from our friend Alan has been abused, buried, dug up, tossed aside and keeps coming back. It also has the good sense to grown, bloom and die off before any veggies can be planted.

The cold frames are starting to show some progress, with the first spinach seed germinating. I have dragged out the hose to ensure that I remember to water them.

Most of Sunday was spent out front getting the beds ready. The curved bed in the foreground is mostly raspberries and irises and there is a three-foot band of irises bordering the side walk on the left.

The near furrows contain potatoes--some planted last fall and the rest bought and ready to drop in place. The far furrows will contain corn and (on the edge) squash and beans this year. The far furrows were iris bed until last fall so I spent much of Sunday hoeing up the last of the iris bulbs and trying to move to soil into some semblance of rows. I then dropped a bunch of lawn litter on the pathways. Then we sat on the deck and had a glass of wine.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Onions and Chives

Jess and I planted about 150 onions Thursday night. These are a mix of yellow and white. We also have a bit of garlic and some walla-walla that we'll drop in the ground tomorrow. 

The chives are also up and I'll add some to biscuits tomorrow for dinner. The ground is thawed down about six inches in sunny spots so its not surprising to see perennials stirring.

Jess tried a chive and confirm they still taste oniony. She used to love these as a toddler but was less impressed this year.

In the front a plant that produces a pretty little yellow flower is pushing through the leaf litter.

This afternoon I started moving some soil into rows for corn out front the house. I also raked the mold off the lawn at the back. And I think I saw some spinach germinate in the cold frames!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Some early planting

I've spent my lunch hours this week doing some early work in the yard while I wait for things to dry out and warmup. I put four pea trellises in the garden to try and add some vertical space by the garage (it gets a nice bounce of sun in the afternoon). 

Tonight Jess and I planted an early crop of shell peas at the foot of the trellises--about 20 feet worth. The soil was thawed down about 4 inches and peas are pretty resilient with frosts. And I have a lot of seed from last year (note to self: 1 cup of pea seed does 100 feet of trellis), so I'm going to gamble that these will germinate before they rot!

In front of the trellis is some garlic we planted last fall and some carrots I left to overwinter to see if they'd produce seeds. In the empty 12 feet we put in some golden beets ("plant as soon as the soil is workable").

I've also been working the raised bed on the east side of our lot. These get a lot of sun and a nice bounce off the other side of the garage. We put in 36 feet of red beets here, about two weeks ahead of last year. The rest of these beds I'm reserving for carrots and those are a month or more away from being seeded. We'll plant a second crop of beets at about the same time.

Around the side I added some more spinach seeds to the cold frames as well as some radish seeds (a mixed pack) to see what happens. I'm off to the garden store to look for onions this afternoon. We ran short last year so I've set aside about 60 feet of rows and would like to put in about 200--perhaps this afternoon if it warms up.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Early spring clean-up

A few days of warm weather has winter on the run and I expect we'll be fully melted out by Tuesday.

This is very exciting and we've been out pacing the yard and racing toothpicks in the streams. The front yard is almost bare of snow and this year's potato patch he'd its shape through the winter. About half of this I planted last fall (to see if overwintering intentionally was a viable strategy). I even remember what part I planted!

In the backyard, I've started the process of cutting out the hedge in behind the garden. This is a huge pain in the butt to keep trimmed. My plan is to replace it was raspberry canes and saskatoon bushes over the next few years. I managed to cut out about 24 feet today and then ran out of energy.

The other project for the spring is to try and graft some Evans cherry scions onto the ornamental cherry we have in the back yard.

Now for a bike ride!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ice flows, bunnies and pea trellises

Despite five days of (relatively) lovely cycling weather last week, winter has temporarily returned with cold temperatures and new snow. The river valley is full of bunnies, gnawed branches and ice flows.

The yard is slightly less snow-bound but it still icy.

That said, the bunnies are starting to turn noticeably brown so I'm hopeful we'll shortly free from the snow pack. Parts of the front garden are almost melted out.

To keep us occupied, Jess and I built two more of the 5x5' steel conduit pea trellises that we built last year. These workers very well and seem indestructible.

I expect we'll put these in the back yard alongside the garage to give us some additional peas. My copy of Alberta home gardener has arrived so I'll spend the afternoon looking at pretty pictures and imagining the garden in three months.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spinach seeds in the cold frames

After a lovely bike ride and then a long walk, Jess and I flipped up the cold frame glass and moved some dirt around. We could dig down about four inches in one and it was about room temperature so I decided to drop on spinach seeds in and see what happened.

Jess was in charge of planting while I worked the camera. Then we tromped around the back yard, scared some rabbits and discovered some of last autumn's garlic starting to melt out. I think this was a German hard-necked variety that put on a bit of growth before freeze up.

We're starting to get the point where enough dirt as melted out in the front yard that we are going to have bare soil very rapidly. I'm keen to see some irises start to come up while we wait for things to warm up for planting. Looks like there will be some nasty cleaning up to with leaves and needles and whatnot having blown in after our last rake of the fall.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Signs of life in the yard!

Today was a beautiful spring day--warm enough to go for a walk at lunch in shorts (and a light parka...). I ran into two coyotes out for a mid-day stroll.

The cold frames on the south side are heating up and I could get my fingers down about an inch or so today. The temperature inside was about 20C. I have a couple of packs of spinach seeds that say "plant when soil is warm enough to work." I wonder if this qualifies?

The strawberries are often the first things growing. They tend to overwinter quite well. Above you can see an immature shoot from last year coming back to life. And below is a brand new shoot poking up through the snow.

The raised beds behind the garage are often the first to thaw out. These had two solid feet of snow on them on Sunday (I stood on it to clean the eaves) and will likely be free for snow by Saturday. Still a ways to plant anything (except maybe some beet seeds).

Around the front, I found what I think is a tiny violet that has self-seeded everywhere just getting going.

I expect this will be a quiet weekend, although if the roads thaw a teeny bit more I will get my bike out. The Xmas lights are all down. I may also prune back on of my hedges--I'd like to replace it over time with raspberry and saskatoon.