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Mar 2, 2009

A Sign of Spring!

Today was a beautiful, sunny day here in Portland. I love days like this! I must say that we’ve had an unusual winter, and with spring on the way things start getting really busy! I haven’t even had time to scout the garden for signs of spring! I have one photo to show you, however, that tells me the sun’s angle is changing- that means spring!

I know this is an odd photo, let me explain. This is a wall in my living room. Now the wall is painted with an ‘old world’ sort of treatment using paint and glaze, which makes it a little difficult to capture this. This wall is opposite our front door, which has a peep hole, like any other door. When the angle of the sun gets just right, the sun makes a really neat pattern, through the peep hole, and onto my wall. I wish I could capture what it really looks like- It is sort-of close. At certain times it’s really big, and it’s gone in minutes, so I have to be quick. Ah, spring!

This last weekend, well Saturday at least, I managed to work on one of my new beds. The wind was awful, but it didn’t rain. I’m sure my neighbors thought I was completely nuts attempting to get the tunnel done. They’ve seen worse, I’m sure! By the time I was done for the day, I was freezing, and my back hurt. I managed to get 1 bed almost completely done.

I dug out a pathway on the left side and took that soil to add to the bed. I mixed up a batch of compost, greensand, rock phosphate, blood meal, a little lime, and some worm poo and added that to the top of the bed. I also took a pitch fork and pierced the soil down as far as I could, rocking the fork back and forth, to add some air. I was amazed that I could even work in this area- and if I hadn’t covered it with cardboard and mulch, I think last year, It probably wouldn’t have been workable. I made sure by doing a little moisture test. I make a ball, a little bigger than a golf ball, and if it breaks apart easily by putting my thumb in it- it’s a go! This area is pretty compacted, however, and I’m a little worried that not digging down may be a problem...we’ll see. My back really can’t handle all that digging! There were lots of worms, so that’s a good sign!

The soil is nice looking, so we’ll see how the crops do.

At the end of the day, the tunnel needed only the last bit of it done. I threw on the plastic, in case it rained, and called it good. The tunnel still needed some adjustment, but I had the wires in place and unless we have very strong winds, it should be okay.

I’ve highlighted the area in the next photo, where the wires go, so you can see how it holds the plastic on. The plastic is sandwiched between the wire and the wire hoops- 9 gauge, I believe. I hope you can see what I mean :)

The wire is run through loops made at about soil level in the hoop wire.

This is the best loop I could make without the muscle around!

The Muscle

They may get in my way in the paths, so I may have to redo them! Instead of making the loops, you could drill a hole in the pipe that’s in the ground- that would work too. I like having the loops there to secure the plastic more, if needed, with clothes pins. In any case, It’s enough to cover my bed for now, which is all I wanted, so the rain doesn’t pound down on the soil. I could have done a much better job cutting the plastic too- it should sit right at soil level- no need to bury it, that is the beauty of the chenille. Eventually, I’d like to cover the wire with PVC tube- that would be ideal. And maybe run a piece of wire down the center, so the hoops will hold up better in rain and wind. I got my graph paper out to design something better, but for now what I have has worked nicely every time I've used these- there is always room for improvement, however!

Today, I finished digging the rest of the path out and added the soil to the last little bit of the tunnel I didn’t finish Saturday. I fixed the tunnels so they’re more even. I think this week I’ll sow some radish and spinach and set some of that lettuce out. As you can see, venting it is a snap! All that’s left is some clean up :)


In other news...the tomato needed to be potted up one size.

It’s really hard to get a good shot with the lights I’ve noticed- at least with my camera :(, or maybe at least with this user of the camera ;)

I also up-potted the Black-eyed Susan.

I put them out in the greenhouse- just for the day. They’ll spend the night inside for a while. I made that mistake with the Cypress Vine- they still aren’t happy with me!

I also put the broccoli outside in a tunnel to harden off. I think I may have lost one...unless it’s really tired and decided to take a nap! I think I might leave them in the greenhouse tonight in an area that is double protected, and has a heat mat.

I hope you all had a great weekend and as usual...

Happy Gardening!



  • Gardeness

    That's a cool wall treatment. Our old door had a peephole and light would shine through to a mirror, then reflect back into our bedroom. Took me awhile to figure out where the light was coming from!

    That tunnel turned out great. Kind of wishing I'd known about this earlier as I was removing said plastic from the new cloche this morning. Still. I do like my new cover. Your plants all look great. I still am in awe with all you have going (do you have an outside job, which would make you super gardener!)

    Question: I have many many onion seedlings in a one plastic salad container that I recycled. What are the chances that I'll be able to transplant these, and should I do it sooner than later?

    Happy gardening!

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Gardeness- I had a lot of fun doing my living room. It was hard work- but well worth it. He,'re funny, outside job? No. I have been home schooling my kids for 9 years now, but I do tutor reading. Onions? I've never grown them, I think :). What zone are you, 8? Not sure what Seattle is. I would set them out now- they are a cool weather crop, but cover them at night. And they need a hair cut before planting. I know some kinds of onions can bolt if soil temps are below 40, so check your soil temp. Storage onions are stunted when planted out too early. Don't forget to harden them off :) (I know I have before!) You know who would really know about onions is Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions!

  • Gardeness


  • lynn'sgarden

    Hi Tessa, nice to meet you! I can see a lot of work went into preparing your beds..I'm impressed! Enjoyed your kids are same age..18 and 14 (big college year for us) and I'm in awe of parents who home-school. I, too enjoy painting old-world (fresca)..well, I try. Thanks for popping in my blog and leaving a comment. Great start with your veg seedlings, yeah, you can never have enough tomatoes.

  • Daphne

    No not really. I know a little about onions. I am growing them this year, but haven't grown them for the last decade. So all my knowledge is hazy :>. Onions transplant very well though. If I were transplanting a group of onions with their roots all tangled up, I'd wash off all the soil (don't let them dry out ever), then detangle them and plant them out. Onions are often shipped barerooted (though moist).

    Oh Tessa, I love the tunnel. I keep thinking I need better tunnels, but never do anything about it. A chenille would be nice.

  • GardenJoy4Me

    Tessa .. I love that capture of the sun at a specific angle , letting you track that Spring truly is coming your way .. I love the odd angles of light from the sun in my kitchen when this is going on as well .. great minds think alike ? LOL
    My god you are one busy gardener .. Mr. Muscle is a great help then ? LOL

  • Ottawa Gardener

    Sorry if this is a double post, my comment was eaten by a virtual monster.

    Nice tunnel. Are you planning on growing overwinter next year? Is this your first tunnel? Mine has been languishing in ice and snow for months now and last I checked the corn salad had made a comeback but with the higher sun, I should check to see what else has reappeared. I like your reading your blog, it's about a month or so ahead of my garden so gives me something to look forward to.

  • Robin's Nesting Place

    Your garden and seedlings look great! I find that it is difficult to get good pictures under the grow lights too.

  • gardenerprogress/Catherine

    When you work, you really work!! That tunnel looks like it'll be great and your plants will love it. I think you should call yourself the muscle!! :)
    Hope you aren't getting all the rain we've gotten since last evening so you can keep working!

  • gardenerprogress/Catherine

    Forgot to mention I love your slide show. Love all your bouquets and your dog is too cute.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Lynn- Nice to meet you too, I enjoyed browsing your blog. Big college year, scary! Not quite time for us, but soon. Yes, I really like the 'old world' look- I have Venetian plaster in my diving room- that was a pain! Thanks for stopping by!

    Daphne- Your onions look really good- I'm sure your full of advice! Chenilles are really great, if you try them, you won't be sorry. However, with your snow, I would use pvc for sure!

    Joy- I'm in full agreement, great minds do think alike! I assume you are still 'patiently' awaiting spring? Yes, Mr. Muscle is a big help!

    Ottawa Gardener- Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I garden in the winter- I still have lettuce and spinach I'm harvesting from a sowing in Sept. last year. Corn salad was eaten up, however. No, I've used this form of tunnel, I really like it because any work needing to be done is easy. I really do need to revamp it with pvc, however- making them stronger. I always love seeing what has made it- good luck!

    Robin- Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad to hear that you too have trouble capturing good pics with the lights- makes me feel much better, coming from you!

    Catherine- Well, some things I can manage to do- but The Muscle is definitely in charge of the big stuff, when he has time! We'll see how the plants like it- the soil looked pretty good, but the plants are the real judge of that! Rain this morning- everything covered, thankfully! Glad you enjoyed the slide shows- I try to change them out, once and a while. Yes, the pooper is a cutie, but can be a pain! We love him anyway :)

  • Anonymous

    You're going to be eating your own veggies in no time. Love that rich soil! Love the you know you're a garden when.... hands off my compost!

    The sun shining through the peep hole, it's the small things, isn't it? Non gardeners would probably eschew your findings but we who garden perk our ears up at any sign of spring.

  • inadvertent farmer

    Tessa...just when I thought I was ahead of the game I come here and you blow me away. My tomatos are just up, broccoli no where near ready to go out.

    I am completely impressed and next time I come to Portland I want a tour.

    BTW...great picture of 'the muscle'!!! Kim

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Grace- Thanks for stopping by. The 'You Know You're a Gardener When' changes each time you view a post page- a total of I believe 10, glad you like it! Yes, I hope I'll be eating my veggies soon- we'll see, once they go in the ground they're on their own- well, sort-of ;)

    Kim- I wish I had your property! And from what I see, you're garden is great! Hmmm...if you do come for a tour, don't pass my house- easy to do because you'd never know a gardener lives here, looking at the yard! ;) The Muscle- he's a keeper, that's for sure! Happy gardening and have a great spring!

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