The Potager

The Potager

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Countdown to Spring

As I write this, Spring is only 9 days away! That thought makes me happy.
I have come home to a dreary rainy afternoon with temperatures forecast to plunge tomorrow (wind chill in the single digits!!!) and I so long to be in the garden. Yesterday the temperature hovered near 60 and I cleaned up my compost piles and prepared some soil to use when I plant my parsnips. This taste of coming spring is so hard for me. I know the soil in the garden is still too soggy to be worked. Patience, gardener, patience.
What I can't do outside I try to do inside. Each day as I water my seedlings I smell the warm earth smell and I am unexplainably happy.
The onion seedlings are doing well. All of the red onion came up, and all but 6 of the white onion have shown themselves. I'll give them a few more days and then replant the missing white onions.
I planted 22 leeks with year old seed. So far 7 have germinated. Since the seed is "old" I will give them more time before I re-sow.

I made a "grow light" by combining a 4 foot shop light from our local home center and two different florescent light bulbs. The warm white light contains the reds needed by plants and the cool white light contains the blues. I have read that this will work and I have to say the onions are doing much better than when they were straining towards the window for light. The light is hanging from ceiling hooks and can be moved up as the seedlings grow. It wasn't that expensive for an experiment.
I am chitting my potatoes. Chitting is putting potatoes with the broad eye-producing end up so they get some light and start to grow sprouts. I have three kinds here: the ones with the red sprouts are Colorado Rose, the ones with the gold sprouts are Nicola and the ones with the blue sprouts are Purple Majesty. I also have Apple Rose Finn fingerlings. I have way more potatoes than I can fit in my beds at the moment. My gardening eyes are bigger than my garden! Also, I bought these while I was at the Philadelphia Flower show and it was so crowded that I didn't really read, I just grabbed by color.  When I got home I realized all of my potatoes are mid-season potatoes. Oops.
I have a sweet potato on my kitchen counter that is trying to grow sprouts. It was one of those supermarket ones wrapped in plastic. It is a bad idea to wrap sweet potatoes in plastic as the vegetable needs to "breathe". I had bought it a week or two ago for a quick meal and never cooked it and it started growing in spite of being suffocated! I still intend to go to a local farm market and get a local sweet potato to plant, but you never know - this one may do well. Plants constantly surprise me.
Most of my time is spent planning, plotting out beds, erasing and redrawing the plans. Perusing seed catalogs for this year's next best thing. I find so much joy in this.
As much as I look forward to St. Patrick's Day as official Pea Planting Day, I will not be planting this weekend, even if a miracle makes the soil workable, because I have a wedding and a birthday dinner taking up my whole weekend. But I am casting my eyes on the following weekend to get my peas in. 

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.” - Henry Van Dyke

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Winter's End?

The snow is slowly melting.  Is this awful winter almost to an end?
I ache to be out in the garden, but the soil is frozen, wet and snow covered.
Yesterday my friend and I attended the Philadelphia Flower Show. It was so lovely to see flowers in bloom.
The theme was ARTiculture. While the colors were eye-popping, I didn't glean a lot of useful ideas.
Arial ballet - interesting.
I do want this. I cannot afford this. But I do want this.
Still to smell the flowers and see the greenery and to spend the day with a good friend - it was a wonderful day.
The next day I walked around the garden. It is 50 outside but the snow lingers on. The chives are peeking through.
Ahh, spring is coming! And one lone hyacinth didn't care that the snow still covered most of the flower garden.
But that is all I could find. So I cleaned up my "potting shed".
A through inventory of supplies for the coming season. When Spring does come, I'll be ready!
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  ~Hal Borland