Thursday, May 7, 2015

Catching Up

I pretty much ignored the garden while my family was here. But yesterday I got a long day in the garden to catch up. I have a few more things to do, but I got most of my list done.

I had tossed the Brussels sprouts in the ground right before they came, but had just put on some scraps of a row cover. I needed one that could handle a full sized plant. That meant tall. So I sewed two pieces of netting together and used some more of the old irrigation pipe for the supports.

I had hardened off some plants and had to get them in the ground. Our weather is hot right now so they will do better in the ground that sitting in small soil blocks that heat up too fast. Above is the first planting of lettuce in this bed. I have three 2' x 2' sections with onions down the middle. Every three weeks I'm going to put in more lettuce. That gives the oldest lettuce nine weeks to mature. That is probably too long as I put them in from starts, but if I did it at two week intervals it would be six weeks and that might be too short. I'm still trying to figure out the lettuce during summer thing. Last year I gave them some shade, but they hated that. They grew weak and spindly. So this year I'm giving them more room and more sun.

And since I planted out the lettuce it was time to sow more. This time I used a summer mix by Fedco. Since I only sow six plants and they have twenty varieties in the mix, who knows which ones I'll end up with. I'm not sure I'll be happy with that.

I also put in my basil. Usually I wouldn't put it in this early, but the long range forecast says the worst low we will get will be in the high 40Fs (9C). And this week is so warm they will love it. So I'm risking an early planting. We won't get frost, but basil really doesn't like the cold. It can turn brown before frost hits. Since basil downy mildew has been so problematic these last couple of years I've put the six plants in three different spots. One near the lettuce. One near the driveway. And one in the front perennial bed. Last year I planted them in two spots and one spot got hit fairly early. The other was much later and I got a good harvest from it. So I'm trying the divide and conquer strategy again.

Wall garden east side

Wall garden west side

Since the first strawberry blossoms are starting to lose their petals I had to get the netting up to keep off the squirrels. I like to do this early as if they even get one, they will be very persistent in trying to get under the cover. Right now I'm holding the bird netting in the back down with bamboo poles held down with U-pins. In the front it is on the wall itself so I'm using some T-posts as they are heavy. But I will need those posts for my cucumbers in June. I'm wondering if I need to go out and buy some more rebar for these. Also two sections have bird netting that is wide enough for this, but the eastern section it is pulled very tightly just to reach over the hoops. I'm afraid that I need something wider. I probably ought to find some more netting in the basement and cut it to the right size.

I was also cleaning up and taking stock of my scattered herbs. The above sage was half dead. I cut out the dead wood and the parts that were covering the wood slats where I wash my vegetables. It still looks ragged, but it grows so well here. I'm thinking of ripping out the rhubarb that is next to it. And putting in rosemary. I need two types of spots for my rosemary. In bad snowy winters I need a spot that drains well and this does. In dry winters I need a sheltered spot farther down the foundation of the house. Because the foundation area is too wet when it snows and the rosemary will die. Here the rosemary dies when there is no snow. I can't find a spot where the rosemary will live regardless. Even the hardy rosemaries aren't truly very hardy here.

I have four sages scattered around the yard. One I thought I had lost, but as I cleaned it up I found a sprout on one of the branches. So I took all of it out except that one spot. I'm also getting tons of little tiny sage plants sprouting up. If I had needed to replace any I could have used those.

My peppermint and chocolate mint are growing well, but the Mojito mint died. I'm shocked. Now I can joke that I have a brown thumb because I actually killed a mint. Nothing kills those. Even my erratic watering over the summer.

To replace all my missing herbs (remember I lost my rosemary too) and to see if they had a moonbeam coreopsis which I need for the front perennial bed, I walked down to our local nursery which is about a mile from my house. I was shocked they didn't sell hardy rosemary. They didn't even have any named varieties. They had "rosemary" and "roasting rosemary". They used to sell the hardy kinds and Tuscan Blue which isn't hardy, but one of the best tasting ones. They didn't have any coreopsis, much less the one that I wanted. They didn't have anything I wanted to fill in the front perennial bed. I didn't leave empty handed though. I picked up a pretty coleus for behind the peach tree in the perennial bed. But all in all I was pretty sad not to find anything I was looking for.

So I went online and found a place that had the two varieties of rosemary I wanted - Arp and Hill Hardy - and some Mojito mint. I also bought some Berggarten sage. I think that would look really nice in the front bed. I'm thinking of ripping out the sage that didn't do well last year. I could let the French thyme take over that area. It is a better size for the spot.


  1. What you say about the mixed pack of lettuces is interesting. They are a mixed blessing: I usually prefer to know what I am sowing/planting, except in a Baby Leaf Salad situation. Sounds like you are having a major reorganization of your herb supply. It's certainly the right time of year to do it.

  2. That's usually my concern with mixed packets - when you only need half a dozen plants, you may end up getting too much of one variety and none of another, that sort of thing. I sowed my lettuce so late this year and the grow lights are so crowded that I decided to only do half the space now and then do the other half a few weeks later. Last year we were drowning in lettuce at one point, so I think this may actually work out better. I also did a lousy job at succession sowing last year, so I'm hoping that this will at least give me some idea on timing.

    And btw - BOTH my mints died this year...yeah...not impressed.

  3. I've yet to find a place I can reliably overwinter rosemary here - except inside in a pot! Or inside the greenhouse, where it is protected from wet and cold. My summer lettuce does well on the east side of the greenhouse, where it is shaded in the afternoon. But it struggles in late July and August regardless of where I put it. I keep on trying to find varieties that can stand the heat, but even the crispheads usually give up in August.

  4. We grow our rosemary in containers which it seems to like.