Friday, March 26, 2010

The Green Mile

Spring has sprung and the planting has begun in our second season of square foot gardening! Woohoo! Can I get a Hoo-Ra? I always imagine what it must be like for new plants entering my garden... Seedlings pop thru the soil (or show up in little pots from the store) and they're all excited to be planted in someone's vegetable garden... and then the other half-dead plants clinging to life in my Little Shop of Horrors shout out "Dead plant walking!" and they realize they've entered the gardening version of The Green Mile. Quite sad.

We've got a lot going on in the garden this year, and as always, I'm hoping for more alive than dead at harvesting time, which means a big fat success in my world. I don't measure success in pounds, but in live plants.

Here's what's entered Death Row…er, my garden. Let's hope we get a lot of pardons before their sentences are up. I've gone for variety again with the hopes that I find something that gels with our gardening mojo.

Swiss Chard (existing plants doing well)
(I'm about to give up and pull out my remaining one. Funny story. I was weeding my raised bed and saw a funny looking weed. I yanked it out and there was a parsnip on the end. CRAP! I quickly dug a hole and stuck it back in with the hopes the 5-second rule that applies to fallen cookies also applies to accidentally pulled parsnips. Note: it does not. It's dead and in an impressive show of solidarity, the other parsnip is going down in a blaze of glory as well.)
Kentucky Wonder beans
Yellow beans
Green beans
Yellow Squash
(holdovers from last season)

I put the cucumber and peas in there as sort of an offering to the garden gods since it's no secret that I can't grow those at all. They're my gardening sacrificial lambs with the hopes that once they've given their lives, that fate will leave the rest of my plants alone.

Of course everything is quite young and already has issues. The bottom leaves are yellowed on most of the plants, which I think would mean they're too wet, but in the raised beds this isn't supposed to be possible. Maybe the two big boatloads of rain we've had recently were just a bit much for the new seedlings. We had about seven inches in a week, so that's what I'm clinging to as the explanation for my premature yellowing at this point.

I've fantasized about growing spinach and my little seedlings already look ready to give up the goat. They, too, are yellowed and droopy, but I'm hoping that they'll come around soon enough. They've been in about three weeks at this point, so I hope they turn around quickly.

My chard is going strong and I've come to love a chard, leek and Canadian Bacon quiche for Sunday lunch. It uses 8 eggs, so it's a good use of eggs, which is always great since the girls' egg factory is still in overdrive. I don't know at what point chard gives up and dies. It's been growing for quite a while, but I'm sure it has some sort of growing expiration date, right?

Whoever said that a SFG doesn't have weeds hasn't met the thick angry weeds of Central Florida. We have pricey landscaping cloth underneath each raised bed, but these thick grassy weeds have still managed to poke through just to show me that I was feeling too cocky about my weedless SFG. Take THAT, Mel.

Knowing nothing about strawberries, I assumed that because they were brown, brittle and dead that they should be discarded. I've found that dead things do best in the trash, but luckily I'm a procrastinator and didn't throw away these dead pots of strawberries . Oddly, they have awoken from the dead and are looking green again. I've even seen the odd bloom on them. Gardening lesson learned: Like zombies, strawberries rise from the dead. Must make a note of that.

On a sad note - and I'm almost embarrassed to admit this - Farmer B brought home a bunch of cabbage and broccoli seedlings, but I didn't have enough room in my raised beds to plant them all. I don't have anywhere to plant them, so they sit in their tiny little seedling pots slowly dying. I actually think they're past the point of survival.

In a perfect world I would have whipped together another raised bed and slung them in, but it takes a good chunk o' change to get the wood, peat moss, vermiculite and compost necessary to get a raised bed ready for action. Every time I go to the garden I see their purple leaves and I feel so incredibly guilty.

Dead plants walking, indeed.


Ribbit said...

Fantastic! Things are going to go well for you. Don't worry too much about those bottom leaves. They can die off with no problem.

Susan said...

I'm quite impressed with your square foot gardening technique and your raised beds. You've done a great job in creating your garden. I do hope the rain hasn't spoiled everything. Hopefully, you'll reap lots of spring veggies. If I were you, I'd compost those seedlings in the! :-)

Annie's Granny said...

I'd say it's all looking pretty good! Just run out there and pinch off those yellow leaves, they aren't doing the plants any good, and you'll be much happier if you don't have to look at them. Your strawberries would probably like a bit of fertilizer about now, since they are thinking about giving forth fruit. Hmmm, can you find a few buckets, drill some drainage holes in the bottoms, fill them with compost (that cheap 99-cent stuff might even work) and plant a cabbage/broccoli in each one? Mine looked worse than that last year, but they survived!

Engineeredgarden said...

Yep, it looks like too much rain making the leaves turn yellow. The cabbage transplants are still worth saving, and maybe you could tuck one in a homemade swc....It's gonna be a good year for you, I just know it.

Erin said...

My chard is growing again too! I just have it in pots for ornamentals, so I guess they can stay and do their thing. Your garden is already doing so well with the addition of your beds, I know this year is going to be a great garden year for you!

Stefaneener said...

We all do the best we can. Don't worry about the leaves. Mine get yellow on the bottom. That chard will go until it goes to seeds -- it will be a long time, it really goes on. Good thing you like it!

Daphne said...

Chard is such a producer. It is a biennial and won't stop putting out leaves until to goes to seed. If you planted before last winter it will probably bolt this spring.

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