Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Madness - Part One

March Madness
We are now just recovering from 3 straight days of unrelenting rain. While we had some minor flooding in our backyard, our neighbor had a virtual lake in theirs. I used to think that us gardeners were much more sensitive to the weather forecast than everyone else, but in times like this, it's hard for anyone to ignore mother nature's power.

I'm glad I was able to get some seeds and transplants into the ground before the weather turned for the worse. I'm even more grateful that my hoops withstood the winds this time around and prevented all of my hard work from washing away with the rain. Hopefully, things will begin to dry out during the next few days when temperatures are expected to reach into the low 60's. I MUST remember to vent my hoops as the internal temperature reached 85 degrees F today even though the high was only in the low 50's. It feels strange to be fighting both frost and excessive heat in the span of a day.

Anyway, just because little work has been done in the garden this past weekend doesn't mean we haven't been busy! I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with my indoor seed starting right now.

seed starting shelves
In fact, I've had to add another shelf of lights to accommodate all of my starts. With all of seeds that I've been sowing lately (I will have to post a complete list for my own reference) and the seedlings that needed to be potted up, available shelf space is in short supply these days.

Super Early Tomatoes
These super early tomatoes desperately need more elbow room. I'm really surprised by how quickly they've grown so far.

I think I overdid it with the leeks. We could probably consume all of these over the course of a few months but I don't think I'll have enough space in the garden to accommodate all of them. I'll have to find good homes for some.

chrysanthemum tea plants
The chrysanthemum tea plants that I received a couple of weeks ago are doing well. Once they outgrow the shelves, I will place them outside during the day.

wild strawberries
The wild strawberries are also looking pretty good. As you can see, some sort of green algae is growing on the tops of my soil blocks. I think this is stemming from the organic potting mix that I used as an ingredient for my blocks, which contains composted seaweed. Luckily, it doesn't appear to be having an adverse affect on my seedlings.

imperial artichoke
Finally, I potted up my Imperial artichokes this past weekend. After a rough start, they too are growing rather well. Sometime during the next few days, I will transfer them to one of my hoop houses. Artichoke plants that are exposed to at least 6 weeks of temperatures in the forties (F) are more likely to produce edible flowers during the first year. Since it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to overwinter them in our zone 6, they are best grown as productive annuals. I have 16 healthy plants, which will hopefully result in a lot of artichokes!


  1. Holy Moly, Thomas! Your seed starting system looks like a nursery! Bravo!

    BTW, I hope you like my post for tomorrow morning, it's gonna probably make you laugh. Ha!

  2. Your seedlings look "magazine photo shoot" perfect!

    So glad your bed covers did not blow away this time and that your seeded beds are intact. If you have a bed that does not have plantings in it yet that is covered by one of your grow covers- you might want to consider moving some of the hardier seedling crops out to the bed (under cover) each day and then just bring them in at night. Eventually, you can start leaving them out at night too - vented during the day - and ease into the hardening off process while also freeing up room in your seed starting area. I use my greenhouse like that and it is the only way I can start so many seedlings every spring without a much much larger light set up.

  3. Thank you for posting instructions for the salad boxes. Three were built over the weekend. I am hoping to gift these out in the future to friends with little to no actual garden space. No reason they cannot enjoy fresh salad with the space saving and portable design. Thanks again. Been enjoying your blog, Robin

  4. The green stuff will go away as soon as they hit light. Things look so good inside, Thomas. Let it rain all it wants outside. You're going to be set for life when better weather comes along.

  5. Those tomato seedlings could be potted up again, burying the stems if you have the containers on hand.... it is looking like June tomatoes for Thomas. :) Everything looks great! And I agree, some of the cold hardy crops could go out under the hoops, maybe even day and night depending on how cool it is getting in there. I have spinach, kale, and herbs in mine and they are happy.

  6. I must say, this post is something for one to aspire to. Well done. I look forward to your complete listing.

  7. Wow, you ended up with a lot of artichokes! I only have 2, but they will be starting to go outside this week too. I added a big gorilla rack shelf unit outside since my wire one was looking a bit ugly when I dug it out of the shed. The seedlings really start to take up space when they go into the next size of pots! So glad you still had your hoops up to protect your plants from the storm. You really had a lot of rain... hopefully everything will dry out this week... I am headed out to check on my peas in the bed, I think the seeds may have washed away!

  8. Looks a little soggy in your neck of the woods. We had a weekend full of rain and high winds too but no standing water.

    All you seedlings look great! Looks like the artichokes came through well, everything always works out in the end.

  9. I'll take some leeks! My son only wants me to grow things I can turn into salsa or pickles. (he doesn't like the winter squashes I grow). Each year I grow something new; this year I planned on trying onions.
    I need to start my seeds this weekend...hopefully the rain will disappear for a while!

  10. Everything looks great. We have made green house tunnels similar to yours, but we have a storage issue, so the plastic is not attached to the frame. I would much rather have them like yours, easier to get in and out of. How do you store your covers in the summer?

    Would love any suggestions you have.



  11. You did a good job with the hoops, they withstood snow, rain, and wind. Your seedlings look great also, that's very very good for a first time gardener. I killed 90% of my plants in my first year of gardening.

  12. Hey Lorie, I don't know quite yet how I will store my hoops this summer as this will be my first year of growing. I anticipate utilizing my hoops well into June for heat loving plants like tomatoes and especially peppers. Our early summer conditions can be pretty mild in our part of the world. In July, I will probably just put them behind my shed until they are put to use again in October.

  13. Everything looks great! Well, except for the soggy garden, but that will remedy itself. You've really got a great jump on the season. Just be careful when you start exposing your babies to real sunlight, you don't want to overdo it at first and give them a bad sunburn.

  14. March Madness is a great name for it! My wife says I go crazy this time of year.

    Looks like you've got a lot of good things growing there. Your seedlings look amazing! I get that green algae/mossy looking stuff too, even on my soilless mix. It usually goes away when I get the seedlings outside.

  15. It was a wild few days while the rain lasted. I think I'll get out to plant peas tomorrow. I hope the ground is dry enough to plant. I think it will be after two lovely days.

  16. Oh wow ! Everything looks great ! (Erm, except the new pond ... ;))

    I love your chrysanthemum tea plants, they're so precious. :) And it looks like the artichokes have triumphed. Very happy-looking seedlings, if you ask me. All are lovely !

  17. LOVE the second photo, the one of the steel shelves with lights and PLANTS. My little tomato and eggplant seedlings are so far behind yours. They just have their cotyledon leaves out of the ground, no true leaves yet. They are languishing on top of the chicken coop roof outdoors. I'd better not show them your blog or they'll want a shelf with grow lights and heating pad too.

  18. Your seedlings look great! And so healthy! For whatever reason, I am especially fond of the chrysanthemum tea plants...I think because I'm so excited that you FOUND them!!

    And whoever adopts the leeks is going to be one lucky gardener!

  19. I am impressed! So many different seedlings.
    My tomatoes are the same size, they are growing very fast. And there is still more than a month before they will be transplanted in the garden.

  20. What a damper (no pun intended) rain can put on things. I hope for your sake that the rain is gone for a while. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!