Jonesing for some warm sun on our faces, we decided to try to entice spring to bring her warm embrace by getting some of our plants started. We figured if the seeds were nestled in their little pots, that spring would have to come to help our plants flourish and grow.
Although we love winter and our four seasons, there is definitely a period between winter, cross country skiing, hot tubs with wine, etc and when we get to dig our hands into the dirt to start bringing life back into our yard. Its only a short time, but that shoulder season is difficult. We tend to go for drives during that time of the year to get off the couch and out of the house.
So, in order to get over those lazy days where it is too slushy to ski and too slushy to do anything else, we started planning our 2017 developments for our yard. First improvement was to get rid of the large 8′ table that we would plant in front of our balcony windows, in the middle of our living room, and upgrade to a more compact option that would allow us to grow the same amount of plants in less of a footprint. We found a really simple indoor greenhouse that allowed us to stack our plants on shelves rather than the long table.
The other bonus, is that it catches a little bit of our heating element making it nice and toasty in the greenhouse. We were careful not to cook our seeds though! The soil was thoroughly saturated, the seeds were tucked in, and the greenhouse was zipped up to keep our pots warm and steamy.
We planted our indoor starters (tomatoes & peppers) on March 12th. We are going with Cherry, Starfire and Big Beef tomatoes again this year. It is a nice mix. I’d like to do some Roma’s next year, but the Starfire and Big Beef make great spaghetti sauce, so I’m not too concerned. We planted sweet, hot hungarian, jalapeño and cayenne peppers.
By March 26th we had some nice little sprouts coming up. Our sweet peppers however, seem to have not come up. I think the seeds are no good, even though we only recently bought them. We had the same problem last year. We will have to try a new package of them, or get a plant this year and save the seeds from the peppers we get. The greenhouse was a great decision and the plants seem to be doing much better than when we did them on a table with a lid & tray mini greenhouse. Hopefully next year we will have an actual greenhouse in the yard, which is part of our 2017 development plan!
The yard itself is looking great. Some of our tomato tower bases had some dirt fall in, so we are going to re-inforce those with a dry-stack rock wall behind each one. This will help keep the soil from shifting on our plants when we first get them in the ground. It should be a fairly simple fix until we are ready to develop that side of the yard.
Our composters are working away, especially now that we are finally getting some more warm days. K got them steaming on the first day that we hit the teens for warmth. We gave them a stir and can see great bug activity in there. Luckily bug diversity is something we have in abundance in the yard, so it is prime for compost. Our “compost” pile in the opposite corner of the yard (the area we stacked weeds, tree clippings, etc) has also broken down beautifully. Nice rich, dark, decaying plant matter is simmering under the pile. Hopefully we can steal some of the dirt from under the pile to help our plants this year.
Over the Easter weekend we got to turning soil in our beds, taking out the few weeds that have started popping up and getting everything ready. We decided that our temperatures have stayed above freezing long enough that it was safe to plant some of our seeds in our beds. We planted cucumber (long english & lemon), carrots, beets, onions, turnips (white & purple), peas (snow & snap) & radishes. We have to decide where to put our squash plants this year as we are not going to grow anything on the left side so that we can terrace & create our beds and paths. Ideally we will get the left side growing ready by the fall so that next spring we are only growing on the left while we work on the right side.
Our strawberries & cherry tree are looking great, although the strawberries in the tower are not coming back as fast as the ones in the ground. We will have to keep an eye on that and make changes to the tower as required. They were such great little producers that we were sure they were going to come in early and strong. The cherry tree has lots of little buds and is growing beautifully.
As of today, we have had to start moving some of our tomato plants around as they are getting too big for some of the middle shelves, and need to be on the top where the peaked roof is. Anytime the greenhouse is open, Ellie is also insistent on being able to check all of the plants herself. So far they get her stamp of approval.
Our plans for this summer is to get the left side of the yard completely terraced, walled and cement paths put in. We plan on using a mould that is used to shape the cement pathway. Our hope is to get something that looks less uniform and more natural. We don’t want a “brick” look.
The walls that we are planning for the rest of the left side of the yard are going to be a little easier than our gabione walls at the top. As the rest do not need to bear as much weight as the top two rows, we plan on putting in 4×4 or 6×6 fence posts every 4′, and then using a heavy duty wire fencing on the front and back of the fence post to create a rock trough. This will keep with the rock and wood theme that we have going on in the back yard.
The only other thing that we really want to accomplish this year, is getting our little metal shed out, and a shed/greenhouse/chicken coop built before winter. We have some more pinterest inspiration (not sure what we did before pinterest), but we will still need to come up with the building plans and design ourselves as we know exactly what we want but haven’t found existing plans so far. We also plan on incorporating solar panels to the shed.
It’s coming along nicely, and we will be hopefully accomplishing a lot this year. Next year will be the right side development and either the fire pit area or the waterfall/pond area. So many ideas and dreams of what it will all look like when we are done. It’s a work in progress and will not be quick!