Monday, 19 March 2012

Gardening 2012

It's been a long time since I was last on. For the last 4-6 months I was not that motivated to garden this year, I felt like I had accomplished something, I'd learned how to do it, and I was moving on. I was some what disappointed because I like gardening; but if I don't have the motivation, it won't happen.
I ordered seeds in January, a much smaller selection than previous years, I was cutting back some. I wasn't as energetic about it this year, and I was going to be gone for the latter half of the summer into Autumn.
Then March happened. We started getting warm weather, much earlier than usual for North Carolina. I started getting plans together for renovating my greenhouse. I started seeing seeing more plants budding, and that was when it happened. I got the gardeners fever. I went to work on getting my compost piles up and going, clean out some old compost, started new piles, dug out the area in front to clear weeds and provide a more level and faster draining slope.

Last week, Saturday morning was one of those Saturdays that you just love. I got up at 7am, which was sleeping in some for me. I had a leisure breakfast and a start to my day. At 9:30am I took our van to Lowe's to pick up 2x4s. The cheapest lumber was treated, so I got 24 2x4x8's. I started the project after an early lunch and continued to 6pm when I had to stop because light was running out, and I had a few other things to work on. I framed up the sides of my greenhouse with 2x4s (before it was 1x6) and secured plexiglass to it. It was quite enjoyable to be out all day in the sun, and it was fun to do some construction work. I love working with my hands!

I now am working on framing up the other half of my greenhouse, putting a level floor in, putting siding on the walls, and a shingled roof that I can collect water from. I will instal two windows in it for lighting. Two weeks ago I spent the afternoon digging out a whole to put my fridge in that I'm using as a root cellar (I calculated that I moved 2 tonnes of dirt in 2 hours). The fridge will be level with my shed floor and I'll have access to it from inside my shed. The shed will house all my tools, wheel barrow, and anything else I might happen to have down by my garden. It will protect them from UV, provide me with some water generated from the roof, and provide a stable place that motivates me to be down in the garden, as well as making it much easier to maintain my garden.

A week ago with the help of my dad I got the right pvc connectors to hook up my rain barrel at the house (330gallons, 1 ton of pressure) to a 300ft long hose that goes down to my garden. I have enough of a drop that I have really good pressure all the way to my greenhouse, which is amazing. So, I now have a hose to water my garden with, something I'd been doing without for the past 3 years. Not only will I have more water to water with, but it will require less effort and my plants will benefit from it. My plan is to take down two other rain barrels (each 330 gallons) and fill them up with water from the hose. If I do that I should have around 1200 gallons of water when we get a drought this year. With the mild winter they are predicting record heat, which I believe in turn will give us at least a temporary drought, I plan to be prepared.

The one other new thing that I have going on is soil blocks. Soil blocks are compressed blocks of soil that you direct sow into for transplanting out later. They eliminate the need for plastic or ceramic pots and reduce transplant shock to almost zero. Because all four sides of the soil block are in contact with air, the roots will not grow further than the block, keeping the roots in check which is one reason why they transplant so easily. The other reason they reduce transplant shock is because you are not taking them out of a pot, you simply take a tray of soil blocks out to the garden, lift it up, put it in a hole, fill around with dirt, water, and your plant is off to a great start. The only cost for starting seeds is the initial cost of the soil block makers, and if you decide to buy the soil mix, or make it yourself. Johnny's Seeds is where I bought mine from, they come in a variety of sizes, from 3/4" to 4". What a lot of people do is start small seeds in the 3/4" blocks, and move them into the 2" blocks and keep blocking them up until transplant time. I bought a 4 2" soil block maker for $30, well worth the investment, most people spend at least that much every year on seed starting supplies.

To learn more about Soil Block Makers:

What do I have started so far?
40 zucchini
40 loofa
6 bushel gourd
13 sweet potatoes (growing them for slips)
40 basil (I plan to do 3 kinds, so far only 1 kind has been planted)
pea shoots (I filled a 6x18" container with peas about 1" apart)

What's next?

More to come!
English Vintner