Thursday, March 19, 2009


It was about time I got myself a little journal to keep some of our garden records in. Got the book, now I need to make sure I keep writing in it - though the blog last year has helped. Much to do with record keeping now as the spring season approaches....

I have sown some seeds to get a start on cool season crops. Things like kale, broccoli and cabbage will go in the ground as soon as they can, which is usually mid-April. I even updated my planting records! Also I am settling on where to put all of our crops this year, you can look at the current plans on the records page.

We got our last order of seeds in last week from Pinetree Garden Seeds. They have some smaller sized packets for our smaller garden. I was really excited to get some Alpine Strawberry seeds. Those went in the freezer to be cold treated so that I can get them started in spring. Now we are only waiting on two crops for the garden - Sunchokes that will arrive in April from Jung Seeds and Potatoes I have yet to purchase.

It's been an interesting last week for weather. As I mentioned, last Tuesday (3/10) we had a blizzard with a total of 10 inches of blowing snow. This wasn't as bad as our December Blizzard, but it buried the car deeper.

After the blizzard blew through, in came the cold air... -17F in the early hours of last Thursday (3/12). That was over 30F below the average for this time of year. I guess to make up for the cold and snow, we were served with a heat wave of +47F on Sunday and Monday. Wonderfully warm days above average...but that lead to huge melt-off. The water had no where to go but our back door. Luckily the ground slopes more to the side of the house, so the water went around the house and down the street. Now we have been glad to get a couple of days back below freezing just to slow the melt some and give the water a chance to settle. It won't last too long as predictions are for warmer temps over the weekend, which might take care of the rest of the snow.

Enough of the crazy March weather...I'm off to find a sunny and dry blog to read.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seed Orders

Since we are awaiting a blizzard today, I figured I could get a post up :-)

We have received some orders of seeds (actually some weeks ago). This will be the first year of ordering many seeds rather than getting them at a local store - just more variety this way I guess. The two orders (of three) came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Jung Seeds & Plants.

You can find a seed list and planting records for 2009 here.

It was actually exciting to get something I wanted in the mail (not just junk). Baker Creek is a great source of heirloom seeds and non-GMO. I ordered nine packets from them and got a bonus pack of white carrots...which is funny because I was excited to try growing parsnips this year. Also among the packets are some common edible flowers I want to try.

From Jung I ordered one packet of seeds and got three additional free trial packets that I didn't expect - happy to have more seeds. I also have some Sunchokes coming from them later in April when I can plant the tubers - never eaten or seen them in person though. I thought they would be something new. Although after reading more, I am a little afraid....they get very tall and are difficult to remove (don't know how aggressive they are about leaving an area). I will just plan a more permanent spot for them and try to have a border.

I can expect another set of seeds in the next week or so (weather dependent I suppose). My next task will be to get a few more starting supplies and some seeds I planned to just buy in the stores.

As for a planting schedule, there isn't too much to start yet. Later in the week are some hardy plants that need more time to germinate. They can go out mid-April whenever the soil dries out some. Most cool season plants I will try to direct sow in April, though some are recommended as transplants - so I will make some indoor starts of those. Warm crops like tomatoes will be started late-April since they cannot go out until around May 25 (I don't want them to get too big indoors).

Winter is hanging on here, so thoughts of seeds are cheery....and visiting other blogs helps too!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Planting Records 2009

Record of 2009 seeds and plantings. This page will (probably) be updated throughout the season as plants are added and growing notes are made. I will put a planting layout, garden information, planting dates, and a plant/seed list. Some things will be "TBA" while I get it all in order.

Past Seasons
Garden Plans
Planting Actions
Seed List

Past Seasons:

Planting Records 2009 (here)
Planting Records 2008

Garden Plans:

Layout for Spring 2009:

(Click to Enlarge)

Here are the vegetable beds I am planting this year. I have filled in some things like perennial crops and will soon fill in other crops. The new beds will not get started until after the ground can be worked - I will add compost and raise them.

Additional layout notes:
  • I decided to put the sunchokes in a northern part of the yard (position not reflected in the diagram). This way they are far from other beds and vegetable production.
  • I will try to so a spring and fall planting as well as some succession plantings, so a few of the crops will change over the season.
  • Radishes will be planted in various spaces as they fit.
  • This year I will really try to get some companion planting done. It will make the new space more inviting to a the insect friends and to people. I will just have to keep and eye and make sure not to crowd anything out (I have done that in the past).

Garden Information (Some are also links on the right bar)
  • Zone 4 (1990-2006 Maps)
  • Dates: Frost Dates (NOAA)
    • Soil Workable: April 06 - April 15
    • Last Frost Date: May 10 (50% 32F), May 20 (50% 36F), May 27 (10% 36F)
    • First Frost Date: Sept 27 (50% 32F), Oct 07 (90% 32F)
  • Seed Germination Range by Temperature (Victory Seeds)
  • Soil and Weather Observation (NDAWN North Dakota)
Some Useful Sites for Planting Times:
Planting Actions:

Note on key dates:
Cool = As soon as soil is workable 4-6 weeks before last frost.
Warm = After last frost (up to 3 weeks later depending on crop).
Fall = From date of first frost.

(Open in full page) [Scroll over for more rows or columns.]

Seed List:
(Open in full page) [Scroll over for more rows or columns.]

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February Cactus

This first picture is not a cactus - though those little teeth can be pointy...

Our Christmas cactus has turned out to be more of a Valentine's Day cactus. This year the bloom opened right on Feb. 14th. I saw blooms last year around Feb. 18.

As the Winter begins to wane, I am starting to get more in sync with the blog world. Last post I was behind 1.5 months. Now, I'm down to .5 months. Maybe next post will be right on time :-)

I tried to capture some of the differences as the blooms open out...

I thinks it's interesting how they move from a real red to an increasingly lighter color.

This "cactus" has a history. It is a cutting from one that my father has - from his father's funeral when I was very little. His mother plant blooms at Christmas. I guess it is the difference between light and temperature exposure.

Here is the same photo without flash - the colors do not stand out well.

Well, there have actually been some pretty nice days this past month. A few stretches of above freezing! Winter is holding on some with some last "arctic" air intrusions. Spring is coming though, I have evidence from the blogs I visited over the last month. I will be starting some seeds at the end of March and I see I planted peas at the start of April. Only a month away