This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT

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Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Feb 28, 2009

Making Progress


With spring on the way, I’ve found myself really busy planning, rearranging, sowing backup crops, and praying that what I’ve started will all make it to be set out in the garden, whether mine or someone else’s.

As any gardener that starts their own seeds knows, timing is everything. In mid-March, the broccoli and beets I’ve started can go in- assuming the weather behaves. And as any NWer knows, the weather doesn’t always behave. Below is the broccoli I started, and it’s getting to be a good size to go into the beds. As you can see they are competing for light and touching- I may have to take a few out of the packs to give them more room. So, I can conclude, assuming they go into the ground as planned and do well, that I may want to start them about a week and a half later next year. However, they grow a lot faster in the house, so when I start leaving them out in the greenhouse maybe their growth will slow a bit. I’ve been putting them in the greenhouse during the day, when the weather permits- funny, it’s when the sun comes out all day that I can’t put them out there unless I can keep them in a cooler spot in there. We’ll see what happens, it’s really too soon to predict whether the timing was right or not for the broccoli- and since this is only the second time I’ve ever grown them, I don’t have much to compare it to. 
                   Note: Some images below enlarge on mouse over.


I will probably start some more, as back-ups, or just pull these ones after the main head is harvested and have new ones ready to go in. I think I’ll start the next ones in the greenhouse.


I’ve mentioned in previous posts about last spring being a little traumatic- a lot of plants waiting to go in the ground, and a few unhappy ones that I went ahead and planted, hoping they would make it.  In anticipation  of this happening again, I’ve decided to make a few tunnels. I needed more beds anyway, and really if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have put in the 4x4 raised beds, or my perennial bed- at least not where I decided to put it. At one time I had a bunch of 30” wide beds and I really liked it that way better. Now I’ll have a combination, and that’s okay too. Since I’m really trying to focus on succession planting this year- it will be important to have more beds ready. 

The beds are small, but I plan on sowing and transplanting short rows across them. Not all crops will be grow that way, the larger plants will take the whole length of the bed. The beds run E/W and will be sloped slightly to the South to take advantage of the angle of the sun in winter- if I can gather enough soil, that is. Oh, and please excuse my neighbor’s mess behind the fence there- he’s remodeling. My mess, like the milk carton, is just because I’m lazy! Well, maybe I was just tired after clearing everything...yes, that’s much nicer :)

This is only one of the new areas. I will have a couple small ones in addition to the beds here, which are hard to see right now. The new 30” wide beds will run the same direction as the raised one above, but only one will be as long. I’ve designed it to have a 1’ path between them. They will each have a tunnel, or a better name would be a chenille. A chenille is a type of French tunnel design where the plastic, instead of being buried in the soil to secure it, is held on the wire hoops by a string on top. This design is really nice because venting is easy. Gone are the days of taking the plastic on and off on one side. All you do is slide the plastic up because it is sandwiched between string and the hoop supports- it is never buried. You can find out more in Eliot Colman’s book Four Season Harvest. When I put it all together, I’ll post more. 

This weekend, I plan to put down some black plastic on the bed areas and paths to help dry it out a bit. This area was covered with cardboard and bark, so I think the soil will be okay to work in- but just in case, I want it to dry a bit before I go digging out the paths, adding that soil to the beds. I’m not going to edge them with boards, but there will be obvious growing areas. After that, the chenilles will be created.


In the greenhouse, things are going far. I’m going to try and build another shelf for the other bench. As more and more plants are potted on from inside the house, they are slowly moved to the greenhouse.

Yesterday, I moved the Cypress Vine out of their packs and into four inch pots with a stick. I had to use Raspberry branches that needed to be cut anyway- they are green on the inside, so I hope there will be no growth on the sticks...unlike my pea brush experiment!


 Dwarf peas growing on Fruitless Cherry tree branch prunings ‘07
Pea Brush experiment


I probably shouldn’t have left the Cypress vine out there that day- but I did. Needless to say, they weren’t very happy with me! Luckily before I went to bed, I wrapped the small area that has a heat mat and a 2’ light in a layer of plastic, so they are fine today. I also had to add a piece of insulation to block direct sun until they get used to the new conditions. I try not to shock a plant with all those new things at once; I’m relieved that they are doing better today!

The Hollyhock is doing really well, especially after I added the shelf. I guess it likes the higher heat in the top.







A lot of work to do tomorrow- I hope the rain stays away for a bit!


Happy Gardening!



  • Daphne

    I am a little worried about my seed timing. I have so little space under my lights. I need to move my onion seedlings outside in the middle of March. With a huge snowstorm about to hit us, that is not looking promising.

    BTW I think those cherry branches that bloomed in the pea patch are wonderful, even if a bit unexpected.

  • blossom

    I couldn't wait to see that patch filled with beautiful blooms. You have lots of plants waiting to be planted. I hope they'll turn out well for you.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tessa, You've been busy. Hopefully the weather will be friendly enough for you to get your raised beds constructed. Have fun.

    My neighbors have seen my coffee-clad bed-head from above the fence line. Luckily they're just as disheveled as I am!

  • Anonymous

    Looks like you have a nice variety of seedlings to go in the garden this spring. It's raining here today which makes for a gloomy day. We had unseasonably warm temps of 70 yesterday & then a drastic drop to about 40 today. Spring is taking its' time getting here.

  • gardenerprogress/Catherine

    You have been working and planning! Your hollyhocks look great! I'm looking forward to seeing your beds and tunnels. I feel so behind when I see all you've gotten done! :)

  • Sue

    Hi Tessa,
    It's hard to time when to start seeds. The year you start things late, may be the year spring comes early. You sure are keeping busy! I enjoyed seeing what you've been doing.

  • Gardeness

    I love it, you're talking about moving to the new-fangled chenille (which I think I saw for the first time online today), while I just built my first two cloches. Oh well, always learning, right? Everything looks great and it sounds like you are well on top of all you've got going. I can't wait to see it all progress. Hey, if we're ever in P-town again, I'd love to meet up and see your operation!

  • Megan

    I'm a bit embarrassed to say, I've never grown anything from seed, I'm not sure how to do it, but I'm enjoying watching from the sidelines and learning. It's probably too late for me this year, but next year, maybe I'll be ready to give it a try.
    BTW, I just realized that if I use Firefox instead of Safari on a Mac, I'm able to comment on your blog. Hooray!

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