Monday, February 18, 2013

Garden update 2-18-13

I was able to do some garden work this past weekend. Not as much as I would have liked to get done, but still a fair amount.

The blueberry bushes have been fertilized, got nice new mulch put down on top of the soil, and are all ready to burst into bloom. One has even started to put out some flowers already. I've got four varieties (having a few different varieties near each other helps with overall production). All are of the "Rabbiteye" type of blueberry, which works well in our hot and humid climate. The varieties I was able to find locally when I bought the plants were Climax, Tifblue, Premier, and Powderblue.  The Tifblue is already blooming, the Premier bush looks kind of scraggly but is covered in tiny buds. The other two are somewhere in the middle. Another point of having different varieties is that they bloom and bear fruit at different periods during the season, so it's good to have an early variety, a mid season variety and a later variety so that you have a longer harvest season. My four bushes are still young, but will produce a bit of fruit this year. I don't know how much they'll produce when they reach maturity, it'll be interesting to see though.

I also planted five Better Bush tomatoes in large pots to put in the front of the house where we get full sun, along with some small yellow marigolds as companion plants for both the health of the tomatoes, and to provide a pop of cheerful color against the green plant and terra cotta pot. Better Bush is a hybrid that does well in my climate and is suited for containers. It makes tomatoes that are bigger than a cherry or salad tomato, but not a giant slicer. Pretty much an all purpose little tomato. If they do well for me, I'll be using them mostly to make homemade marinara sauce. They were an impulse buy at the garden center Sunday morning because they were such big and healthy thriving plants.

Then I got the two heirloom "black" tomatoes in large containers too. The variety is "Black Russian" and they are supposed to be compact plants that produce well. Heirloom tomatoes have been really hit or miss for me. But these were from a reliable supplier, and planted in fresh new rich soil in the prime sunny spot of my yard. So they have the best odds of doing well.

I also got my two jalapeno plants into their pots. I always seem to have more jalapenos than I need, they are very productive little plants here. So this year I chose two varieties, Purple pod jalapenos (which are green inside and are as hot as a standard jalapeno) and "Tam" jalapeno which is a hybrid that has all the jalapeno flavor with only mild heat.

The seedlings are doing okay, the Lipstick peppers are doing the best, the Ghost peppers doing the worst. The Little Finger eggplant somewhere inbetween. I think at least some will make it to transplant stage. But I really need a lamp/heat mat setup to sprout seeds in the winter for spring planting. Next year...

My next project in the garden will be to transplant all of the bell peppers into their containers (and the one funny little "Red Peter" pepper. After that, I will prepare all the March planting (cucumber seeds, bush bean seeds, herbs, eggplant, zucchini, and at the end of the month the melons. And in the meanwhile I will be adding flowers here and there as I go for color in the garden and to attract bees and butterflies.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Garden Update: Seeds Sprouting and transplants to pot this weekend.


I'm seeing the first seedlings from my little plastic seed starter greenhouse. It's really a kids' toy but seems to be getting the job done just fine.

I decided to try three different kinds of seeds in it. Bhut Jolokia or "Ghost" pepper (insanely hot crinkly red pepper), Lipstick pepper (very sweet little cone shaped red pepper), and Little Fingers eggplant ( clusters of small finger-shaped dark purple eggplant). I hadn't seen anything break the surface of the dirt and then all of the sudden they'd just shot up like crazy. I'll be having to find them some good sunshine now so that they can start to grow strong and healthy in preparation for transplanting. Fortunately we've got the sunny weather, and it shouldn't be too cold at all for them in the daytime. It'd have been nice to start them on a warming mat, and then put them under a grow lamp but I just didn't have it in the garden budget this year. Next year though, I will be more prepared for seed sprouting and probably even try and grow my tomatoes from seed instead of getting transplants. But a grow lamp is pretty much a must because they have to be started indoors so early in my growing zone.

As far as new transplants, I've got 8 baby broccoli plants going now, as well as 3 Husky Cherry Red tomato plants (and one more to transplant this weekend). I also picked up a bunch of starter pepper and a couple more tomato plants at a local nursery that is really in tune with our growing zone and climate. 2 each of a green, orange, and red bell pepper, a purple jalapeno,  and a "Red Peter" pepper (which makes rather naughty looking peppers),  And then two "Black Russian" heirloom tomato plants, the only heirlooms I'm going to take my chances with this year. I may go back to the big box garden center and get a few Better Bush hybrid tomato plants, but haven't decided whether or not I want to deal with them or not. Same with full sized eggplant. It just depends on where I have space once what I have already is where it needs to go.

And I also got a trailing rosemary plant to put in the big pot I usually grow rosemary in. It's a tall pot, so I figured the trailing variety would be pretty there.

When the time comes in the fairly near future, I'll be planting Japanese Long cucumbers, Dragon's Egg cucumbers, and possibly some Lemon and Marketmore cucumbers. Also Dragon Tongue beans, Roma II beans, and Trionfo di Violette beans (which will be grown up a trellis as they are vine beans instead of bush beans). I'll probably also find room in the garden to try and use up all my old bush bean seeds before they get too old to do anything. I've also got some mini cantaloupe style melon seeds which can be trellised, and will probably find a place to trellis some more of the Rich Sweetness 132 melons. And some round zucchini and the rest of my herbs.

No new trees this year. No budget for them, and I need to put effort into the ones I have. The only tree I'd consider getting would be a lychee I could put in a big pot, but that's probably not happening this year. But who knows... If I find one at a decent price, I'll think about it.  My mature Meyer lemon tree produced like crazy this year, and needs some serious pruning and TLC. As do the immature orange and satsuma trees. The immature Meyer lemon seems to be doing just fine so I will leave it as-is and just give it some fertilizing once the growing season starts.

The blueberries are coming along nicely, time to fertilize them as well. The plants have nearly doubled in size since I bought them last year. All but one are thriving and I should get a fairly decent amount of fruit this time. Even the one that isn't thriving still looks better than when I bought it. They will get fertilized too so that they're ready to do their budding.

The rosebushes are coming out. The area we have them in at the front of the house just isn't a good rose area, and would need extensive soil amending and building up into a raised bed to do right by them. Only one plant is healthy and it is really healthy. I will probably leave it be, so I can still have some roses to enjoy. We just didn't know much about growing roses, and put in really cheap plants from a discount store that weren't all that great to begin with. When I'm ready to try roses again, I'll do it right. So, once most of the roses come out of that area, semi-decorative veggie pots that need full sun are going in their place.
Fortunately it's going to be a very nice weekend, this weekend. We've got a lot of yard work to do. The oak tree decided to finally finish dropping leaves, and the yard and most of my containers are a mess. I've also got a second round of compost going,