Saturday, May 9, 2009

Here we go again!

Starting Seeds Indoors
In mid March I got the urge to "jump the gun" and get something growing. I started some trays of warm weather seeds indoors. These are plants that need a longer growing period to produce fruit. As it turns out I did it more for the discipline and the practise, as I find, two months later, a whole variety of strong seedlings are available on the market. However, now I know that I can successfully start and care for healthy seedlings on my own. I also know that my seedlings are untreated - West Coast seeds - and nutured on my potting mix which contains organic fertilizers and compost and fed with fish fertilizer and liquid seaweed.

I started Tumbler tomatoes, chilli peppers from seeds of peppers I bought in the Okanagan last fall, trays of different varieties of zinnias and cosmos, bush cucumbers, flowering sweetpeas and a compact variety of edible sweetpea called "Sugar Ann" and two varieties of melons ... probably cantelopes sold by West Coast seed so hopefully they stand a chance of producing some fruit before the first frost.

My kitchen table became the dedicated seedling nursery, the sunlight from the east supplemented with full spectrum flourescent lights suspended inches from the seedlings. A poor substitute for sunshine but we do our best.

Seedlings on the 4th April

The next step was to pop the seelings from the seed trays and upgrade them to larger pots so they could continue to grow without becoming stressed as we continue to wait for the outdoor temperature to stabailize over 10 degrees C. At that point they can be put out in the ground. Now that the seedlings have a few true leaves, it is time to supplement their diet with waterings of liquid fish and seaweed fertilizers to support their continued growth. Now space really becomes an issue. Time to move trays outdoors.

Seedlings on the 26th April

From the kitchen table the seedlings graduated to the small plastic greenhouse on the balcony and when that was full to capacity, onto the balcony floor covered in clear plastic supported by bamboo skewers.

Cool Weather Veggies
Sometime at the end of March I started cool weather seedlings outdoors. Lettuce, curly cress, arugula, sui choy, mesclun mixes and radishes and they are coming along steadily.

Cress and arugula - early April

Patchoy and Lettuce today.

Edible Sweet Peas
I planted out a first pack of Sugar Ann sweetpeas, a short variety and one seed sprouted from that pack. I dug around in the soil to try and determine what went wrong and I still don't know. Perhaps a crafty crow was watching me plant the seeds! So a started a second pack in trays and did get some sprouting which I planted out. I pruned last year's branches off my potted bamboo and they will provide some support, though this variety, if the pack is to be believed does not need staking.

In the other large container I planted an early variety of seed potato purchased right here in Richmond from the grower W@A Farms - 604-278-5667.

Bought Seedlings
I hedged my bets ... whatever that means ... and bought some commercially grown tomatoe seedlings. I am like a moth drawn to a flame where tomatoes are concerned, I feel like Charlie Brown who believes, once again ... and again ... and again, that this time Lucy will allow him to follow through and kick the damn football rather than pull it away a the last minute, causing him, once again to land on his big head! However, I have an objective this year. My daughter will be getting married in September and I would like to grow and supply some of the produce hence the different varieties of tomatoes!

I have planted them into larger pots using my potting soil and been watering faithfully with liquid fertilizers and hauling the trays in an out to avoid dangerous temperature fluctuations and rain! It is a kind of madness ...

My Allotment Garden
I have been working hard on my allotment garden. Got the hubby to help me build raised beds this year. Which meant I had to fork up the entire bed which is when I understood why I had such a dismal year last year. The ground is dense clay about 8" down. So I have been forking the whole thing over.

Drove around with six bags of Boy Scout manure - I hope they are not being literal - in my car for about two weeks until I had finished forking. Collected about three bags of seaweed and have three buckets of compost from home waiting to line the bottom of each tomato hole ... it is insanity.

Now I wait for the lilacs to finish blooming because according to timeless, gardening wisdom based on experience (phenology), this is the environmental indicator that conditions are right for planting warm weather veggies ... no one, of course, is willing to offer any guarantees.

Richmond Urban Farmers
Three of us embarked on a voyage of discovery mid summer last year and acquired three neighbourhood yards and began growing food. This year we will have our first full growing season. We have plunged in with the verve of newbies and to date have prepared and planted up two of the gardens with all the cool weather veggies, are completing the newest garden today and look forward to putting in the warm weather crop at the end of May.

This last garden, Seema's garden, is interesting because it was a full lawn at the end of last year and we have composted straight over the lawn with layers of cardboard, seaweed, bags of fall leaves and a load of City compost. The grass will take another year to properly breakdown before it can be rototilled so this year we are digging individual holes, ammending with soy mash and planting vines and warm weather crops. This experience is detailed in a dedicated blog -

I lurch forward, with hope burning eternal, into another growing season.
Let's see if Lucy really allows Charlie Brown kick the ball ... this time ...

Here we go again!