Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Has Sprung

It finally feels like spring here instead of winter. This week's predictions are for 50F for highs and 32 for lows - well for the most part. The snow isn't 100% gone, but all the parts in the sun are snow free and warming well. Yesterday I prepared two 4'x8' beds, including fertilizing the beds. The first had a high nitrogen fertilizer for my spinach. I got it all mixed in and then planted out some Space spinach seeds. I sow them in rows 6" apart (7 rows as I don't like them next to the edge). My in row spacing is about 2" or a bit less. Not all of them will sprout, and I'll eat the little baby spinach thinnings when they get big enough.

The other bed is the pea bed which got a lower nitrogen fertilizer. I didn't plant peas yet as one spot didn't thaw because a pile of snow was next to it. I moved the snow so it would melt faster and brought the frozen patch to the top. I'm hoping this afternoon it will have thawed out. With the coming warmer weather, I should be able to plant soon, hopefully today.

My onions are all hardened off and ready to plant. Their bed is next to the fence though and that section takes a bit longer to thaw than the beds closest to the path. They are still in shade and haven't seen any direct sun yet. Soon though. Everyday the sun moves closer in. Just a few feet are left. I will plant them as soon as that section thaws. I might do part of them earlier and just keep planting as more and more of it warms up.

In previous years I've put my brassicas that need hardening off underneath the row covers in the garden beds. But this year I made a little support for a row cover over my flat so I can keep my seedlings right next to the kitchen door. This will keep any butterflies or flea beetles from attacking them when they are so small. And I will look at them more often to make sure they aren't getting too dry.

I made a tiny support too. I grow the seedlings indoors in flats. But when one kind of seedling needs to be hardened off and there aren't very many, I move them to a small repurposed take out container. Here you see my very early Asian greens. Not many, but early is risky.

Oh and I almost forgot. The soil in Massachusetts will get very acidic if it isn't limed. Blueberries grow naturally here. We get a lot of acid rain. I did a soil test through our extension service in January. I dug up the samples in December, but forgot to send them in until the end of January. My pH is 6.4. When it was put in two years ago the pH was 6.9. I like to keep the garden between 7 and 6.5. So it was time to lime. Their recommendation was 2-3lbs/100sqft. Normal lime is about 1lb/cup, but I used pelleted lime and weighed it at about 2/3 of that. And since my 4'x8' foot beds are about 2/3rds of 100sqft, I figured I needed about 2 cups of lime per bed. I don't use a spreader. I have use a 2 cup measuring cup for all my garden fertilizer and lime. Sadly after doing all the outer beds except where the corn will be planted and one inner bed (the one that will have the onions), I ran out of lime. I'll have to pick some up today. Hopefully I won't forget where I put it already. It is better to lime in the fall, but spring will have to do.


  1. Good idea with the row covered mini-hardening off spots. I'll borrow that from you for my brassicas, which are just now getting their true leaves. They'd probably prefer that to the artificial lights. Mine have been unheated at night, so I'm not so worried about temperatures as I am about strong sunlight....hahaha, as if we would be getting any of that!

    I have the opposite soil problem here, as ours is alkaline.

  2. The onion seedlings look good, I like your idea of mini hoops to hardening off brassicas, thanks for the tips, will borrow the idea and try it soon.

  3. That is a clever idea to harden off a few plants! You have been busy and your seedlings look wonderful. Nancy

  4. Your onions look really good. What a relief it must be to finally enjoy some spring weather!

  5. Your onions are beautiful! Mine are very small right now. I hope the fatten up before transplanting time. I love your mini-hoop idea!

  6. Everything looks so healthy in your garden! Longing for our snow to melt now so I can get on with preparing my own garden. Our prolonged wintry weather has made me feel a bit despondent about ever being able to grow anything this year - thanks for giving me some enthusiasm for Spring planting again!

  7. What a geat idea for using row cover over those flats! Flea beetles don't usually both anything here except eggplant. The butterflies are another story. I'm hoping I can get some Asian greens and lettuce planted here this week. Temps here seem to be warming up a bit too.

  8. Forgive me, but aren't 4x8 beds ~1/3 of 100 sq ft (as they are 32 sq ft per bed) not ~2/3 of 100 sq ft as you stated? Does that mean that you've been liming at 2x the suggested rate? Thanks for any insight you can provide!

    1. Yes you are right. Weirdly I really have 4x16 beds, but they are split in the middle into two 4x8s. Sometimes I think of it one way and sometimes the other. I often get them messed up like that. But either way it would be fine. The pH isn't all that bad at 6.4 and I'm using palatalized lime which is slow. Powdered lime would be more problematic if it were doubled.

  9. We have naturally acidic soil too so today you've reminded me about two things I must do over the Easter break - lime the beds and sow peas.