Saturday, March 31, 2012

New growth!

The weather has come back around this week and it was +13 yesterday. The snow is gone from all but the shadiest areas of the yard and we decided to poke around the yard after work yesterday to see what we could see.

First up was a very hungry squirrel whom we caught raiding the bird feeder. We don't generally have problems with that but it is likely a tough time of the year. S/he eventually got used to us gawking and we spent about 15 minutes watching the squirrel chow down on sunflower seeds from about four feet away.

Around the south side of the house, the onions we planted last fall continue to out out some new growth (the centre stalk). No sign of the garlic we dropped in a couple of weeks back, even in the cold frame. It was easily 25 degrees in there yesterday afternoon and we dropped in some carrot, beet and kale seeds to fill in where the transplants didn't take.

Also on the south side we found the first chives of spring, poking up beside a warm rock. I know the chives are always among the first things I see when I start to move the leaf litter around so these may not be that early. I know I've seen them at Easter before. No sign of tulips or daffodils, though.

In the backyard, one of the apple trees has moved from setting buds to starting to leaf out. Fingers crossed it can withstand the cold snaps we're likely to get. In the background, you can see Jess poking around in the two beds she wants to operate by herself this year.

And, with Jess' sharp eyes, we ran across a bunch of spinach which just germinated today (I'd swear it wasn't there when I went for a bike ride at lunch) in one of the uncovered beds on the south side of the house. I seeded this in last fall (I think--may have been early in the spring) and I'm quite chuffed to see it come up.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Winter's back!

Well, the garden had a slight set-back Thursday as winter returned for a few days. It hasn't been that cold and the moisture is likely useful. But, having had the snow pretty much melted down to the sod, makes it hard to see the silver lining!

The cold frame got a nice crown of about three inches on it. So far, I have managed to avoid peaking inside to see how things are for fear of releasing what little heat may be in there. You can, though, that the glass frame is beginning to melt out from the snow so perhaps I'll be able to see this afternoon.

In the basement, the tomatoes continue to grow and a few of the dud seeds appear to just be late germinators. So I have a bit of re-potting to do.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kale to cold frame

I decided to take the lunge today and move a few seedlings out into the cold frame. I moved three kale plants out along with six or seven beet seedlings. The weather looks good for the next two weeks--maybe a bit snow but otherwise no big deal.

I also dropped in some garlic cloves (hoping to make up for missing the window last fall), both in the cold frame and in another sunny (but unprotected) bed.

The kale and beets were all grown in newspaper pots and, after several stabs at this, I would not bother doing this again. Using small plastic pots is a whole lot simpler! And that is what I've opted for with the tomato seedlings.

About half of the early girl and cherry tomato seeds I started have come up. Not sure if the others are slow or just duds. I'll give them another week and then do a second sowing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New growth

After a stressful day at work, Jess and I hit the garden last night, poking around to see what was happening as the snow retreated. After filling the bird feeder, Jess pointed out that the apple trees were starting to bud out.

My gardening guru Alan emailed earlier in the day with news that the tulips on the south side of his house and garage had poked through and we went looking for our own.

No luck but we did find some onions we'd planted last fall. You can see above the older, forst-damaged growth and the tiny but of new growth right at the base of the shaft. I may get out and jam some garlic in ground (forgot last fall).

The phlox (which blooms a lovely pale purple) also overwintered despite the lack of snow cover and is green. I don't think it is growing yet but nice to see it didn't completely desiccate.

I also pulled back the glass on the cold frame to smooth out the soil for planting this weekend. The smell was amazing--that kind of warm, earthy smell of things rotting and growing that we usually have to wait until June to get. I will be moving from a MacGyverized cold frame to a proper one this summer.

The spring light also highlights some interesting moss we have on the elm trees. When it rains and the bark gets wet, the green turns green. The rest of the time, it has this lovely rusty patina to it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cold frame update

I decided to actually take my lunch hour today and spent it outside enjoying the warmth. I finished taking down the Christmas lights (excepting the tree which requires the ladder) and then poked around the garden some.

Behind the garage, two of the raised bed are free of snow. The raised beds further south (with no bounce off the garage) are still ice covered. Looking at the soil, I ran across the first growing thing of the year--a weed, which I promptly pulled. How I have missed setting order to nature!

The make-shift cold frame I built on the south side of the house seems to be working. The raised beds in the back yard are still frozen (although most of the snow is gone). By contrast, the soil in the cold frame is thawed as far as I could push this trowel in (maybe 6 inches before I lost leverage) and reasonably warm to handle. I'd say we're some time way from planting in the cold frame but this is encouraging!

I also see that the bunnies have kindly been fertilizing the other beds over the winter.

In the basement, the tomato seeds have not yet germinated (which is expected) but the rest of the seeds appear to have and are putting on a good show. I expect to pick up our bikes from their winter tune this week and then we'll see what is happening around the neighborhood.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pie and cold frames

With the weather being decidedly spring-like today (we had lunch on the back deck in our jackets), I thought a quick update is in order. Over the weekend we continued to work our way through last summer's fruit, with a delicious Saskatoon berry pie.

The seedlings in the basement are growing. I'm not sure what this one is (maybe a stray carrot seed towering over the celery sprouts)?

The kale is still growing, although things seem to have slowed. We also planted some cherry and early girl tomato seeds on the weekend.

And I finally put the glass in the cold frames yesterday. A day later, half of the snow within the frames had melted.

If the weather is warm enough this weekend, I will get out and put a strip of felt around the lip of the frame to get a better seal against the glass.