It has been almost a month now since we started a few plants inside the house. They are happily growing big and tall and are on-track with being ready to go into the garden beds in mid-May. Over the next week or so, I will begin to put them outside on the deck for the day so that they can get used to the breeze and outdoor elements, hardening up those roots in preparation of their permanent homes.
We also planted some outdoor a few weeks ago (April 12), and they are also looking great. They have all started poking through the soil, and are looking happy. We will have some weeding to do soon as we are also helping some of them grow with the abundance of water and the little greenhouse top to one of the beds, but we want to wait until the vegetables have a little bit more time to establish their roots before we disturb them by pulling out the weeds that are close to them.
Our tomatoes are well on track and are approximately the same size as they were last year in the little indoor greenhouse. The three varieties (Romas, Pear and Cherry) are all growing at the same rate, and looking happy. I have been rotating them so that they continue to follow the sun and grow nice and tall without a lean. We had to stake some of them in their pots recently as they are growing quite tall, and we added some more soil to the pots to help stabilize them. We had purposely only filled the pots 3/4, so that we could add more soil as they got tall. We will likely have to stake the rest of them this week as they are growing tall so fast.
The peppers are doing fantastic. They are slightly bigger this year than they were this time last year, and they look much heartier and full. Hopefully this is a good sign that we will have good pepper production this year. Last year, they were slow to start, and some had low yields, mostly our sweet peppers. Our hot peppers, although slow to start, still provided a good yield overall. Sweet peppers have always been difficult in our yard. Hopefully the good start and a new home with much more sunshine, will help with production. We are also going to hold off a little longer in getting them into the ground to make sure that they go out when we have more consistent warm weather. I think we usually get them out a little early, when it is still cold and it stunts them a little.
The onions were planted on April 12th in the garden bed and just this week started poking through. They seem to be pushing up quite rapidly now that they are out of the soil. We still have some that need to break through, but those will likely come over the next few days. Worst case, we plant some more.
The carrots are sprouting like weeds. In the past we have always been very careful how we plant the carrots, measuring exactly 1 seed per hole. Last year, Kurt tested out being a little less careful to see what we ended up with. He had done some reading about ways to grow carrots and decided to give it a try. We ended up with a ridiculous amount (we are still eating our frozen carrots from last year), and had a nice range in the size from the gargantuan ones we are used to, to cute mid-size ones that are excellent to roast with some other root veggies. He went with the same system this year, and as you can see, we have a lot coming in. We will have to put up some dog fencing in the next couple weeks to ensure the dogs do not get excited about the carrots and ruin the growth.
The beets are also doing great with nice healthy tops started. I am excited for these as this is the first year that I have been able to find golden beet seeds. I love all beets, but my favourite beet is the golden beet. It is great roasted and especially good pickled and added to salads. Once this batch is ready, I will plant another batch of red or candy-cane beets so that we have a variety to choose from in the pantry.
The cherry tree is blooming away. It was damaged a few years ago and about half the branches died, with a lot of sap running down them and pooling at the trunk. We thought the tree itself was going to die, but it ended up only being those few branches, which was a nice surprise. Last year we ended up with a bowl full of cherries, and this year it is looking like we will get many more. We unfortunately, are going to have to move or possibly get rid of this tree as it is now in the location that we plan to build our gazebo. Our neighbours gave it to us a few years ago, and we didn’t know what the plan was for the bottom of the yard yet, so we plunked it in. Unfortunately, planting trees while landscaping the yard, sometimes results in having to move those trees a few years later. I’m not sure how easy it will be and we may end up losing it. We will have to see.
Like the cherry tree, our neighbours had too many rhubarb plants and handed one over the fence to us. It is now also in a location that it cannot stay, so we will have to move it as well. The good thing about rhubarb is it is like a weed and will have a higher chance of transplanting than the cherry tree will. For now, it is happily sprouting and we are looking forward to harvesting it to make some more strawberry/rhubarb pies this summer! This plant will likely end up in the new set of walls that Kurt is currently digging out, so it won’t be transplanted until the end of summer.
The strawberries in the tower are starting to stretch to the sun and throw their blankets off. We will need to remove all the dead plants from the bed this week to let the new growth really take off. This will be the 3rd year for these plants, so we will see how they produce. We did allow them to send off some new shoots last year, so we should have some new child plants that will start producing this year. These have been excellent plants, so we will likely keep them in a parent bed when we build the new strawberry section. Although their strawberry production will decrease, their new job will be sending off shoots for new plants that will take over on the strawberry production.
The driveway strawberries are thriving as usual. It alway amazes me at how well they do considering we don’t water them. The only water they get is from our rain gutters, and we have not had rain in about a month, yet they are looking really healthy and have tons of flowers. These are cute little strawberries that taste like candies, similar to the wild strawberries you will find in the forest. We continue to leave them since they seem happy and offer a delicate little treat throughout the year.
My co-worker over-anticipated her potato needs, so she nicely dropped off half a bag of two different kinds of potatoes for us. We will get those started this week. We just have to get the potato towers setup somewhere temporary for the summer while we continue to landscape. Eventually they will have a permanent home, but a lot of our landscaping is in the area that we will be leaving them permanently. We love the potatoes we grow, so we will make it work this year.
Now that our fences are built, our focus in the next week or so will be continuing to prepare the garden beds. We have some tomato supports, a cucumber ladder, sunflower supports and a few other odds and ends to build before we can get our plants into the ground. We will also be cleaning out our flower boxes in preparation of getting those in, possibly next weekend. Lastly, Kurt has some digging to do so that I can finish the last few rock walls. I am determined to get them done by June, and then I am not building any more rock walls (hopefully!). Spring is officially here with all the plants going into the ground!