After lunch today I got in about an hour of weeding, mostly in the carrots and around the grape vines. Lot’s of dandelions this year, and something else I haven’t identified yet.
After that, I planted some garlic — I know, I know — it should’ve been in the ground last fall. Hopefully we’ll still get some this year, otherwise I’ll leave them in the ground until next year. I planted two heads which had been sitting in my fridge for too long and had started to sprout. I’m not sure exactly kind of garlic it was. It was from the grocery store and had sprouted in my fridge after sitting in the bottom drawer for too long.
I also planted thyme, chives and basil. I don’t know that I have ever purchased chives, but we planted some a few years ago and they can barely keep up with us eating them now. Thyme we planted because we use it a little bit.
As you can see in the picture below, we had a lot more basil seeds than thyme or chives. The reason? PESTO! Last year we only had one small pesto bush. That was enough for cooking with, but not for making pesto. I planted a 6 foot x6 foot square area with basil today; hopefully that will be enough.
The packages say to plant tomatoes and peppers indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date. Fridley’s average last frost date is about May 21st, so I’m late this year. Better late than never though, and I’m happy to say that my tomatoes and peppers are finally planted. They’ll have about 4.5 weeks inside before transplanting this year instead of the 6, but maybe we’ll get a warm fall that will still give them the needed time to mature.
Planting Tomatoes and Peppers
I picked up a bag of dirt from Home Depot. This year it was Scotts Moisture Advantage. I don’t have a favorite, this one was just one of the cheaper ones in the size I wanted.
A few years ago I read on a blog about mixing the dirt with water in a bucket and filling the pots with already damp soil. It seemed like a good idea and so I’ve been using it. The soil being damp makes this less of a messy project for the kids (no dusty dirt on the table) and means I don’t have to water 36 little pots full of water.
The trick is to get the dirt wet enough that it stick together, but not so wet that it drips out the bottom of the pot when you fill it up.
I used to use the black plastic multi-cell planter pots, but they were pretty flimsy, tore easily and my plants always grew out of the small ones. It was much cheaper to just buy a big pack of party cups and drill a hole through the bottom of them. You can wash and re-use the cups. They’re not black, so it’s easier to write on them with a sharpie, and they’re a good size for 6-week old tomato and pepper plants.
This year we’re doing more beets, peas and basil, and less tomatoes and peppers. We planted 9 Sweet Million tomatoes, 9 Beefsteak tomatoes, 6 Sweet Banana Peppers, 6 Hot Peppers and 6 California Wonder bell peppers.
The carrots are coming up.
Lettuce Lane is our name for the path that goes between the garden and the trees, up to the spigot. On either side we’ve got a 6-8 inch strip of dirt where we fill with lettuce. Here it is popping up already.
The Rhubarb and Chives have awoken from their winter slumber. Hopefully this will be the year I get my strawberry rhubarb pie.
Lastly, the cherry blossoms have started cracking open. I would love to get cherries this year, but I know it’ll take a few years before this tree really kicks it into gear.
Happily, my garden orders will only be about $100 this year compared to $200 + dirt money we spent last year and the year before. The garden will be a little bit smaller which partly accounts for the decreased cost. The vine borers were so bad with the pumpkins last year that I’m not going to plant anything that they can eat. Hopefully a year of starving will keep them at bay, and I can grow some nice pumpkins again next year.
I have a lot of seeds left over from last year which helps too. I only had to order one type of tomato this year.
Goals and Decisions
This year I decided I wanted to plant less types of plants, and to do more canning with the larger crops. I settled on beets, peas and basil. Beets because I like beets (and I bought a pound of beet seeds last year!), peas because you can never have too many fresh peas, and basil because last year’s crop was sufficient for cooking, but much too small to make pesto. And I love pesto.
I also focused on turning the garden next to our house into an herb garden. I just got accepted to the UMN Masters of Geographic Information Science, so I expect that the next couple of years will be very busy. I plan to continue gardening, but I want to reduce the amount of work it takes. I’m hoping that having an herb garden is part of that solution.
This Year’s Order: $101.23
The total isn’t actually in yet, because I haven’t bought the cherry tree, but it’s in the budget this time around and I know what kind I want. We’re going to get a North Star sour cherry tree. Here’s the rest of the order.
Next up on the todo list is to clean my starter pots so they’ll be ready when the seeds get here. I also need to sharpen my lawn mower, shovels and hoes. I bought a tiller that doesn’t start last fall, so I need to get that running and till the garden.