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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Welcome!

If you have found your way here from a visit to Linda's Realm, welcome! If not, you really need to go visit her site. She is a heathen, a witch and lives in Norway. Isn't the Internet a wonderful medium for shrinking the globe!

Here in the wilds of central Maine, I am getting ready to work on my garden spreadsheet, and as always put more colors on the hex signs I am painting.

This year I have agreed to supply a buyer's coop in a nearby town with produce, so I need to have a good plan for what gets planted when, how often (succession planting to keep a fresh crop) and when to expect the harvest. Plan the work, then hopefully I will be able to work the plan AND keep the deer at bay this year. I need to get this done as it is almost time to begin some of the seeds (leeks and onions come to mind) indoors. Many people, even here, plant everything in their garden on the last weekend of May, regardless of whether the crop likes cooler weather and can germinate in cool soil or whether it needs much warmer conditions for optimal germination and growth. On that date, the weather has varied widely from year to year in the short time I have been in Maine, so my basic thought is... one weekend that is guaranteed to be hostile to MOST of the garden plantings!  LOL

When you see those seed packets saying to plant "as soon as the ground can be worked" they mean it! Those seeds like cool soil and cooler air temperatures to get the best start, often "bolting" (quickly going to seed) when the weather warms. If you have never had luck with spinach, planting too late is likely the culprit. Also, speaking of spinach, it LOVED rotted manure so for the best yield, throw down a good thick layer of goat or bunny dropping, or spread well rotted cow manure in the area where you plant spinach. I don't think you CAN use too much! Then get those seeds in the soil as soon as you can work it, and it has drained enough that you are not making mud pies! All of those "as soon as the ground can be worked" seeds can go in when you plant the spinach, and many of them would like a succession planting a few weeks later, and maybe even after that, depending on how quickly your season heats up. Try it and make notes on your calendar about how well the plantings grow, when you harvest them and when they go to seed. That will give you a better idea for the following years.

If you want to grow things that are most commonly set out as seedlings, you don't need a greenhouse, but to keep the baby plants from getting too tall, spindly and weak ("leggy) you can't just put them in a sunny, south-facing window. You will need to augment that window light with at least one fluorescent "shop light." You need to keep the light CLOSE to the seedlings -- only an inch or two away -- but you ordinary bulbs will work just fine. There is no need for the extra expense of "grow lights." Make sure to have a fan nearby, blowing on your plants, or at the very least, brush you hand gently over them several times a day. Consider is "isometric exercises for your plants" because this does, indeed, help them to grow stronger!

Even if you only  have a porch or a deck and think you do not have room to grow anything, I think it is well worth the effort to try a few fresh herbs, or a "patio" tomato in pots. These green growing things will not only provide you with a bit of extra fresh flavor in their time, but also help connect you with the larger natural world, and freshen the air as well!

Happy growing!