Monday, May 12, 2014

Finally got to garden

Here in Michigan it seemed like spring would never come but I think it finally has!  This weekend was the first nice weekend I've been able to enjoy.  We have had some nice days up till now and either they were hit and miss or I was out of town when they happened.  I'd take a redo of this weekend for the next month.

I slowly got a lot of work done in the garden.  We have two major "garden" areas and this weekend I got one "almost" ready.  I hoping to finish up some work on it today if the rain holds off!  

This year I started some seeds indoors (as usual) with heat mats (not usual for me.)  My husband got them for me earlier this winter and I'm pretty impressed with the difference.  A lot of seeds that I have trouble getting to germinate came right up.  For me I have no trouble with things like zucchini, melons, basil and usually do okay with tomato's as well (though they seem to be trickier to harden.)  What gives me problems is peppers and many of the "herbs".  This year using the mat both the "rooster" pepper and "mini" peppers came right up.  The poblano's still didn't but I was using seeds that were 3 years old so that could be part of the problem.  I think the heat mats will definitely be worth the investment!

Pine needle "mulch"
My biggest problem with my garden is not the boxes that I grow things in, though they do occasionally need weeding attention, it's the paths.  The paths between my boxes (or areas) tend to get very weedy.  Over the years we have tried many things; straw, cardboard, mulch, ground cover etc..  The straw worked the best for the first few years but then I got some with seed in it and I had straw "growing" in my raspberries that I planted, yuck.  I still about 4-5 years later deal with the repercussions of that mess.  So I vowed not to use straw and take a change on that again.  Mulch works to some extent but it needs to be deep and gets very expensive.  I've tried several ground cover "cloth" type things that are "guaranteed" to not let weeds through.  Let's just say that I've found them to be a HUGE waste of money.  Cardboard works the best but has to be put down again each year as it disintegrates.

This year in an effort to not spend a lot of money on the garden (saving the money to make some new boxes later this month) we're using pine needles.  I had done this years before in my raspberries and they did fine with it.  Pine is acidic but we're using them around the boxes not "in" the boxes so it shouldn't bother the plants who don't like the acid.  My husband collected lots and laid it on THICK.  We have more to collect as we need to finish the paths in this garden and then move on to our second garden area.  Luckily we have 13 acres of woods with lots of pine needle droppings.  I love to use free things.  

The idea for this type of covering comes from a movie we watched called, Back to Eden.  It's worth watching if you're into gardening at all.  He talks about noticing in nature how there are not weeds everywhere and how layers and layers of leaves, pine needles etc...  cover the ground.  It's very interesting.

Parsley that over-wintered
So what is planted so far?  Not much, really.  Actually I had parsley overwinter which is unbelievable considering the we hit record cold this winter.  My rhubarb is growing like crazy and so is the oregano.  It's still to early for much of the other herbs though my sage is starting to come back and the apple mint in starting to pop up all over in and out of it's
Oregano spreading like crazy!
box!  I did plant pea pod seeds and put in some store-bought plants of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.  Those are 3 that just don't come up well for me from seed and when they do they take so long to get big enough for the garden that i just just
faithful full rhubarb
spend $3 and get 4 of each.  Actually this year I think I got 8 of the cabbage. We've been enjoying Asian chopped salad so I know we'll use more.

I may get the zucchini and some squash in today.  Still need to weed the strawberries and get more pine mulch in too.   If not today it will have to wait a week or so as I'm off to another convention later this week.  We'll see what today brings! 

Happy gardening!

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