Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Act 1 – Scene 1
Stage lights fade up to reveal a small patch of earth that has been neglected. A confused human is holding his head in one hand and a camera in the other. He turns to acknowledge the audience.


The good, the bad, and the beautiful.

Hello all and welcome to the first entry in Jeffrey’s Garden Blog during the 2012 growing season. We had ups and downs last year, but we have acquired a few acquisitions during the off-season and I’m hoping this year we can make a run well into the post season. Thanks to everyone for the support and questions about when the blog and the garden was going to start up again. It’s nice to know that some folks are getting some enjoyment out of my journaling.

The Good:
After having some mediocre success last year I decided to expand the operation. I now have two garden plots.  The second contains no barrier so it will be interesting to see how big an impact the rabbits and other varmints have on the operation.  The reason for the second plot was to have a good place to grow watermelon and other plants that vine outward and take up lots of space.  At least 1/3 of the original plot was dedicated to watermelon last year, and it seemed like I could allocate my space a little better. My family and I loved having melons in the garden, so I decided the best thing to do was to plow up some more ground and dedicate that space to Citrullus lanatus and maybe some pumpkins later in the season. My pal from work, Mr. Spear, was nice enough to bring his tractor with a PTO driven rear tiller and make us a generous sized expansion. It took him about 25 minutes… that included arriving, unloading, tilling, and loading back up to leave. Afterwards I had serious tractor envy. We were able to beat Monday’s ¾ inch of rain and actually got 4 rows of potatoes and 2 rows of white onions planted before the rain started. I refer to this as my experimental garden so I plan on putting some different things in as the season progresses. I also may turn into a rabbit/critter slayer so this should prove to be somewhat interesting.

Taters in the ground, taters in the ground... eaten' real good with my taters in the ground.

The Bad:
As alluded to during the beginning of this blog entry I’m a little behind with my preparations. This week’s scheduled deluge has proved to be ill timed because I had planned to prepare the main garden this week.  I’m not too concerned because I’m still a couple of weeks away from putting anything in the ground. This strange winter and early spring has got me ready to pull the trigger now, but I’m still a little skeptical about putting anything in the ground before mid April. Even then I’m a little nervous, but I think that’s “go time” this year… better than late May like last year!

Currently I'm growing tiny patches of fescue and empty metal cages in the garden.

I have plenty of tiling and upkeep to get things back to normal, but it will be much easier than last year and all that is due to mulching and using newspaper as a barrier.  This year I plan on papering and mulching the entire garden before I put anything in, and this should nearly eliminate any weed or grass problems.  I would highly suggest this method to anyone starting a garden this year, unless you just like to pick weeds.

The Beautiful:
Over a weekend my good friend Rick Todd and I built a cold frame.  He had acquired a double paned window that was just going to be thrown away, but was wise enough to save it from the landfill and give it a second purpose. Along with that window, some fasteners Rick had, and about $40 worth of supplies from a home improvement store the cold frame was born.

Now I know how The Galactic Empire felt when they finished the Death Star

It’s primarily made of 2x2’s and some thin plywood, but with the Styrofoam walls and weather striping around the lid it has proved to be a fine piece of equipment that can produce temperatures over 120°F with the lid closed.  I know this because we installed a thermometer that reached 120°F and it exploded when I left the lid closed on a 65°F afternoon. Yeah… it’s awesome.

It’s taken me about 2 weeks to figure out how to “play” the cold frame but I’ve got a pretty good idea what it can do now.  On a bright sunny day (approx. 70° F) with about a 3-4 inch opening of the lid you can expect about 15-20° increase of temperature inside the cold frame.  If you open the lid about 12 inches you can expect a 5-10° increase of temperature inside. I have developed a couple different sizes of 2x4’s to prop the lid open to get my desired results.  On a cool, cloudy day with the lid closed I can expect about a 10-15° degree increase of the outside temperature inside the cold frame. Done reading this yet…?

It looks like this after it rains... all sexy and gorgeous

I have never seen the temperature below 42°F inside the cold frame.  Even on nights were the temps got to around 32°F and small amounts of frost was on the outside window. Ah snap!

So with this advantage I have started many plants extremely early, and my plan is to harden them off inside the cold frame before planting them after the last frost date of April 11th. Hopefully this will result in earlier yields… especially concerning tomatoes.  I have Early Girl Tomatoes that have already sprouted and if all things go to plan we should have a harvest available around May 7th. Bam!

Basil, dill and sunflowers are already enjoying some time in the cold frame
Think of it as a hot tub for plants

I have also started a different hybrid tomato that should supplement later harvests as well as basil, dill, rosemary, long and pickling cucumbers and green peppers.  My hope is that these plants will respond well to the transplant and the garden will have a big jump on last year’s.  I hope to repay my obvious debt to Mr. Todd for designing and building most of the cold frame in copious amounts of produce over the spring and summer.  Thanks Rick.

Well there’s an over extended update and preview of 2012.  I’m really excited about this year, and I hope that folks continue to come back to the site again.  Please feel free to suggest things or comment whenever you like.  One quick plug… if you live in SW MO and you’re in the market for quality seeds and garden supplies… and have a tendency to despise box stores like I do… please visit Springfield Seed and Supply.  They are very polite and helpful to novice gardeners, and they have a great variety of seeds at very competitive prices.

And now… a ukulele song.

1 comment:

  1. Excited for you!! I have hopefully channeled into a little green thumb that I have, however i will be tackling it from an apartment. I also have basil, the seeds have germinated, i'm excited! if you know of any other herbs or veggies i could grow with limited space, and direct sunlight, let me know!