Posts Tagged ‘garden planning’

Green Thumb Up My Nose — The 2017 season begins

April 24, 2017

Well, OK, it really began two weeks ago when I scattered some lettuce seeds in Section 1, but the NENW has had an unusually cold and wet winter/spring (current soil temperature is 50F), so our formal planting is starting off about a month later than I hoped.

The Plan

Despite that, the greens are starting to sprout.

However, it is now getting a little warmer, so on Saturday I cleaned all the spruce cones (thanks, spruce) and trimmings of spruce new growth (thanks, squirrels), weeds (thanks, weeds), and trash (thanks, me), laid down some anti-squirrel barriers, and planted a bunch of lettuce, and some cabbage and broccoli in Section 2. Now, I know I’ve said that brassicae don’t do well here (my last try bolted by mid-June), but it might just be cool enough…

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Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned and Plans for 2017

January 31, 2017

Lessons learned:
Not much new here. Don’t plant in the shade (yard shade and Section 4), and don’t plant short plants north of tall plants. The only brassicae worth trying are cabbages, and even then it’s a crapshoot. Beans are more trouble thant they are worth. Peas are OK. Burdock needs a lot of time to develop roots worth taking. Don’t expect your tomatoes to be more than tennis ball size.

Plans for 2017:
It’s a mild La Nina year, so we’re cooler and wetter. At the end of January there’s still eight inches of snow on the ground, including some from late November. I’m still going to plant early, but with less hope of useful results.

gardengantt2017

Continuing our medieval field rotation we have

Section 1
Tomatoes.

Section 2
Greens, lettuce, maybe cabbage. Yes, this violates the no shorts north of talls rule, but if I start the short stuff off early, it will be well developed before the tomatoes start to shade them

Section 3
Peas, cucumbers, carrots.

Section 4
Squash, melons, asparagus, maybe amaranth. Still looking for a purpose for Section 4.

Deck Containers
The usual tomatoes

House Containers
Tomatoes, cucumbers

Southside
Dig up the hops. Never gave that much shade, and I’m no longer interested in climbing around on the roof to mount/dismount the netting. Remove all the dirt (pesticides), and use it on the front lawn. Add new dirt, with lots of coffee grounds, and some blueberries.

Green Tumb Up My Nose: The 2016 Season Begins

March 20, 2016

Oh, I had so many plans, and here we are at the end of March with none of them in motion. My intent was to have lots of seedlings started already, have moved some to the portable greenhouse, and be well on my way to transplanting the cabbages and bok choy. Well, I’m batting 0.000.

To be fair, the weather hasn’t cooperated. A warmer El Nino year doesn’t mean warm. Regardless of the status of any seedlings, it’s still too cold, even in the greenhouse. Last week it was highs in the middle 40’s, with lows dancing along the frost line. This weekend will be warm and wet, and then we go back to highs near 50, and frost-dancing lows. Currently, the temperature one foot down in Section 1 is 45F.

I do have some lettuces started, but those might be better off if raised indoors. We shall see. Meanwhile:

1. clean up garden
2. start the cabbages and bok choy for an early May plant out
3. start the peas for a mid-may plant out
4. see how much room I have in the seedling corner for additional starts.
5. move the greenhouse up onto the deck

Given that the usual date for outdoor gardening around here is the first of June, this is probably as aggressive a schedule as one could hope for.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Plans for 2016

November 25, 2015

We are in an El Nino cycle, probably a strong one. That means the NENW will likely be warmer than usual (precip probabilities are split between less and more). And that means we can try planting out even earlier. Like early to mid April. In keeping with earlier approach, I’m rotating the fields again. This time, Section 4 is in the main rotation.

Crops to be grown
Tall crops (including climbers)
Peas
Green Beans (small planting)
Lima Beans
Tomatoes
Amaranth

Short crops
Greens, of course
Asparagus
Carrots
Squash (winter, summer, pumpkin)
Cucumbers (Lemon)

Containers
Tomatoes
Lemon cucumbers
Peppers (not-chiles)

New Ideas
Melons
Cucumbers (European)

Section 1
Brassicae. Yes, I know. Trying some clever timing tricks.
See the Gantt Chart
Carrots. Maybe the amaranth goes here

Section 2
Peas and beans. Maybe cucumbers.

Section 3
Squash. Maybe melons

Section 4
Tomatoes.* Asparagus.

The Schedule

early Feb – Start seeds indoors
early April (60 days later) – move to greenhouse
mid March — transplant cabbage and bok choy
early May — transplant other things
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

 

Garden Gantt 2016

Garden Gantt 2016

*We did a tomato tasting this evening, before the last of the tomatoes goes off. Conclusions were:

The red tomatoes were OK, and mostly indistinguishable — Brandywine, Celebrity, Champion, and Early Girl. The only small red tomato, the Zebras, were tart and very thick skinned. The small yellow Lemons were not as tart as the bigger yellow Cougars. The yellow Brandywines were Brandywine-sized and knobbly, and didn’t taste that much different from the run of the mill reds. Note — although it said Red Brandywine on the tin, I expect the labels got switched, because they were nowhere near as big as the yellows, and were shaped nothing like them. I’ll have to think on this when Spring comes.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2015

November 22, 2015

Looks like the garden is done for the year. I don’t think the peas will survive 18hrs of frost, dipping to 18F, three days after the 18th.  Here’s a commentary on this year’s plans:

General
1. Hit hard by powdery mildew this summer. Garden plants, ground cover plants, and plants in the front yard were infected. Go for mildew resistant strains of everything.

PM wasn’t a problem this year. Maybe it was drier. I put up a shield so my neighbor’s sprinkler wouldn’t dampen the squash, and that helped.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging flypaper.

Didn’t need the greenhouse much, and never got to try the flypaper.

Yard Crops
1. Can’t do much with the area that’s in deep shade. Avoid next year (although part of that might have been the mildew).

I didn’t avoid, and it didn’t go well. Just don’t, OK?

2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

Added hooks, but it hourglassed in the middle. Gonna hafta build a full sized frame

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

Long beans tended to go from freshripe to dry and crumbly in a couple of days. Had more lemon cukes than we could eat.

2. Try more miniatures

Couldn’t find any

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

Yeah, right

4. Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

Or, as far as I can tell, not even in KHG’s. Give up.

Keyhole Garden
1. Abandon Section 4 as a berry farm. Too much work for too little return. Plant to peas and beans this year.

Got one good crop of beans, but the second planting didn’t make it

2. First pick of one pea plant last Summer gave about five pods, with four or five peas each — call it twenty peas per plant. One serving seems to be about 80-100 peas (I’ll confirm next dinner time), so we need 4 or 5 plants per person per meal. Which means I plant at least 20 plants next time. Six lima bean plants made two small servings.

Peas do not do well in deep shade, which is what we had behind the Santa Maria beans. Keep that in mind for next year. Beans and peas and tomatoes should go on the north end, and lower plants should go on the south end of each KHG section. In other news, we like limas better than green beans.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

Didn’t need them

4. Re-do all of the irrigation hose. Set it so each section can be watered individually.

Done, except the individually part

5. In early Spring, rebuild the SW corner of Section 1. Consider re-coring the center basket as well.

Done.

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Didn’t need them.

What didn’t work:
Pumpkins in the shade.
Amaranth. Planted too late, wrong varietal.
Brassicae. Any kind. Any where.
Santa Maria beans (pinquitos).

What did work:
Peppers out front.
Lemon cukes.
Hanging Zebras.
Wire shelving as an anti-squirrel measure.
Last minute summer-squash-inna-box.

Next week: next year

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2014

December 1, 2014

So this is really, truly, 本当に the last garden report of the year. Our first hard freeze hit on November 11th, and the second one this weekend. Temperature 18″ down in the KHG on a 28F December 1st noon, after a 10F weekend, was 42F. Used up the last of the lettuce last week, and will use up the last of the tomatoes this week. Last year we had a smaller harvest, but we still had tomatoes ripening indoors in mid-December.

General
1. Hit hard by powdery mildew this summer. Garden plants, ground cover plants, and plants in the front yard were infected. Go for mildew resistant strains of everything.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging flypaper.

Yard Crops
1. Can’t do much with the area that’s in deep shade. Avoid next year (although part of that might have been the mildew).
2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Try more miniatures

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

4. Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

Keyhole Garden
1. Abandon Section 4 as a berry farm. Too much work for too little return. Plant to peas and beans this year.

2. First pick of one pea plant last Summer gave about five pods, with four or five peas each — call it twenty peas per plant. One serving seems to be about 80-100 peas (I’ll confirm next dinner time), so we need 4 or 5 plants per person per meal. Which means I plant at least 20 plants next time. Six lima bean plants made two small servings.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

4. Re-do all of the irrigation hose. Set it so each section can be watered individually.

5. In early Spring, rebuild the SW corner of Section 1. Consider re-coring the center basket as well.

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Review of Last Year’s Plans
1. Early fertilization helped. We don’t generate enough kitchen waste to support four KHGs. However, watch the nitrogen.
2. We did better on tracking dates, but not good enough.
3. Did not have as much of a blossom-end rot problem, but specific cultivars did poorly. More Ca.
4. Hops did well. Don’t think I’ll need any more plantings.
5. Planting squash in the ground cover zone didn’t work. Mildew was at least as much of a problem as location.
6. Didn’t plant long beans, and the lemon cucumbers got mildew.
7. The big cherries did well in the containers. Next year will try them in the hanging baskets. Also try some additional cherry varietals, to get a wide range of colors.
8. Removing the keyhole kneeholes worked, but one does need steps to get up on the dirt.
9. Labeling still needs work
10. Slugs not as much of a problem this year
11. Moving from 2×4 to 1×1 helped lighten the KHG covers. I think I need to separate the chickenwire from the plastic as well — second plantings need chickenwire.

Next Year’s Plan
Section 1
Tomatoes and squash. Try beefsteaks again, but with a different watering plan. Seriously look for mildew resistant varieties of everything.

Section 2
Brassicae. Cabbage, mostly. Make one last effort to grow daikon

Section 3
Peas and beans and greens (oh my). Plant lots earlier. Deb Tolman says to try amaranth, since some of those have a 30-day to harvest cycle.

Section 4
Not quite sure what to put in here. Maybe just a cover crop. Figure out the best way to fit it into the rotation.

The Schedule

Move everything up about a week
early Feb – Start seeds indoors
early April (60 days later) – move to greenhouse

early May — transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 11, 2013

Garden Report for 131111

This may be the last GTUMN of the agricultural year. Most of this year’s harvest is gone. There’s some tomatoes left, a Delicata, and the two pumpkins. Since it’s a long weekend, we may work on some pumpkin soup.

There was a bit of a disaster in the container lettuce this week — a plague of caterpillar. I have two containers (the 30″x6″x6″ kind) one of which has a mix of fairly mature greens, and the other filled with immature Iceberg lettuce. For some reason, Iceberg is hard to get to head in the home garden, and I don’t even try because it makes for excellent green leafies, like Buttercrunch. Both containers have been outside in the nature until the weather got frosty. The other night I brought them inside and stacked them side by side. Next morning, the iceberg had been ravaged. Nothing left but stems and pieces. This made me quite cross, so I waited until dark and crept back into the sun-room with a large knife, to find a three-inch long caterpillar crawling around the devastation, looking for another snack. Evidently, he’d hidden in the older foliage and came out at night to cross over and eat the young stuff.

Needless to say, after a certain amount of shrieking and stabbing (think Hitchcock and Psycho, only with more dirt and less water), the various ‘pillar parts were deposited in various corners of the yard. I don’t think the remnants of the lettuce are salvageable, but a packet of mustard seeds just arrived (thanks Deb) and I have faith they’ll be worth putting under grow lamps.

There’s about 40 smallish tomatoes left, all ripe and some getting over-ripe. What I’ve decided is that pretty much any tomato, no matter how green, will ripen up if left in a warm place. The warmest place near the kitchen is our living room floor, because it’s directly over the gas furnace in the basement. We keep the house at 66-70F most of the winter, but a newspaper-covered box on the floor stays at 72-74F. Using that approach, all of our tomato harvest has ripened, and we didn’t lose any tomatoes that went from green to rot.

I spent the tail end of the weekend moving the last of the municipal soil into the two large cavities left in the no-longer-Keyhole Gardens. The hole part is there, just not the key part. This will make it easier to move crops around as part of my Medieval three field rotation. The plan for next year is:  Section 1: greens and chard ; Section 2: tomatoes and squash; Section 3: Brassica.

Speaking of chard, on a whim, on Sunday, I went out and planted a packet of last season’s chard. I’ll be buying a new one in the Spring, so this is a good way to use it up. We’re forecast for reasonably warm weather (and possibly a mild winter), and I’ll cover the area with plastic until they germinate, and we’ll just see what happens. Last year’s crop had remnant chard poking up through the snow in March. So, maybe this isn’t the last GTUMN until Spring.

Happy Armistice Day. Go hug a Tommie.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned 2013

October 20, 2013

General
1. Think about the fertilization schedule. I may have done too much too late, and promoted too much foliage growth at the expense of vegetables
2. Better date tracking. Put harvest dates in as well as planting dates. Too much stuff was lost because I didn’t pay attention
3. Get more Ca into the soil, everybody needed it

Yard Crops
1. Happy with the hops. Get six more to fill in and extend. Buy early and bring along in an indoor container for a month before planting out

2. Make better use of the ground cover zone for squash. This year I did squash in containers, and they didn’t do well, due to crimping of the vine going over the edge. The ones planted directly in the soil did better. Have to cut way back on the ground cover, and remember to move the planting spots around each year.

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Happy with the miniature cucumbers. Nothing else worked out

3. Look for a bigger cherry tomato for the hanging containers. S-100s are OK but we’d like something more substantive

4. Better labeling. This year the labels were buried by the supplemental potting soil. Write on the container. By the time it’s covered with writing it will be time to dump it

Keyhole Garden
1. Take out the KHG kneeholes. Don’t really need them, and it makes watering awkward — too much stuff runs down the steps. Plus, I lose some planting real estate

2. Better slug control. I didn’t find any at night, but I would early in the morning. Diatomaceous earth only works on dry soil. Consider some form of slugbane.

3. Redesign the covers. They work, but they’re heavy

Review of Last Year’s Plans (keyed to original numbers)
1. squash numbers about right, but production was poor
2. Squash/tomato pairing worked
3. Planted lots instead of fewer. Production was poor
4. Early start helped, but I think the weather didn’t cooperate. Try again even earlier
5. Still getting blossom-end rot
6. No fix so far. Even big tomatoes were in the 2oz range
7. Still need a more formal watering plan

8. MJ doesn’t like the wrinkly heirlooms ’cause they’re so hard to cut
9. labeling still needs work
10. giving up on corn
11. greenhouse covers worked well
12. no change

This Year’s Plan
Section 1
Peas and beans and greens

Section 2
Tomatoes and Squash. Plant bigger varietals of tomatoes. Plant mostly summer squash and 8-ball squash. Maybe a Delicata. Rest of the winter squash go in the yard

Section 3
Brassicae. Plant lots earlier.

The Schedule

Move everything up about two weeks
mid Feb – Start seeds indoors
mid April (60 days later) – Transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

Garden Gantt

January 20, 2013

A Gantt chart is a tool for project management, developed by Henry Gantt back near the turn of the last century. It’s a horizontal bar chart that shows start/stop dates for various parts of a project.

In order to help plan my garden, I’ve developed a Gantt chart of my own. You enter the start date and duration, and it displays that information using a horizontal bar on the calendar.

Gantt Chart Calendar

Gantt Chart Calendar

Here’s the file. It’s in .xls format because WordPress won’t allow .ods (but it will allow .odt, go figure).

I based it on the writeup in the Squidoo blog

There’s two steps to building the chart.
Step 1. Write the formulas to define the status of the calendar cells.
Step 2. Define the cell formatting, based on that status.

In Step 1, you begin by numbering the dates across the top. In my case I used weeks from February 1. Then, in a set of columns at the left, you provide the start and stop dates. The duration isn’t actually necessary, but we’ll see how it helps in a minute. Finally, you write a formula in each cell in the calendar area for it to take on a 0/1 value, depending on the relation of the date of that cell to the start/stop dates. The pseudocode formula is:

IF (StartDate<=DateOfThisCell AND DateOfThisCell<=EndDate)
THEN ThisCellValue = 1,
OTHERWISE ThisCellValue = 0

As an example, for cell H11, the LibreOffice spreadsheet formula looks like this:
IF(AND($D11<=H$2, H$2<=$F11),1,0)

In Step 2, you format the cell with the formula so that it shows up white if it’s value is zero, and some other color, say green, if the value is one. That’s a two step process itself.

Step 2.1 is to go to menu item Format/Styles and Formatting and define two new format styles, let’s call them GanttON and GanttOFF. In the first one the cell background and font color are both green. In the second one they are both white. Changing the font color makes the numbers invisible.

Step 2.2 is to tie the style to the cell value. You do that using the Format/Conditional Formatting menu choice. For cells with a value of 1, set the contitional formatting to GanttON. For cells with a value of zero, set the contitional formatting to GanttOFF.

Now we tweak the Start/Time/End cells. Keep in mind that there are two basic approaches to planting — direct seed, and transplanting of seedlings started earlier.

Direct seed is simple. It uses one row. If you are planting in the Spring and want to know the harvest date, then you enter the Start date (say, date of last frost), and growing Time. The harvest (End) is determined by these two numbers: End = Start + Time. If you are planting for a Fall harvest and want it ready before a certain date, then you use Start = End – Time.

For transplants, you need two rows. The first row is to time the seedling growth up to some specific transplant (End) date, so Start = End – Time. The second row is time from transplant to harvest, so End = Start (transplant) + Time.

To tie the two together, you make the Start of the outdoor growth equal to the End of the transplant growth.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned 2012

November 18, 2012

So this was my first summer with a keyhole garden. Mistakes were made and lessons learned. Herewith some lessons, and a concept plan for next year:

SQUASH
1. Don’t oversquash. I had half of each of two sections in squash, and then I had two whole sections in squash, and then I had part of my backyard in squash. The only thing that could compete was the tomatoes.
2. Don’t plant anything but tomatoes alongside squash. The greens were overwhelmed, the onions stagnated, the blueberries died, the dill died. The beans barely survived.

TOMATOES
(more…)