Transplanting Heirloom Tomatoes

Once my heirloom tomato plants start to grow their second set of true leaves, I transplant them from the small seed starting cells to larger pots.

Tomato Transplant

The transplant mixture that I use in the new pots is a combination of my standard seed starting mix and perlite. I usually mix about 4 parts seed starting mix to 1 part perlite. After the mixture is combined I wet it with water before placing it in the pots.

Transplant Mix

I place a little transplant mixture in the bottom of each pot. Note: make sure that whatever pot you use, there is a drainage hole in the bottom. I usually use a pot that is between 3 inches and 4 inches in diameter at the top. I have used a wide variety of pots over the years, from yogurt cups to standard green plastic pots. Recently I have been using a natural, biodegradable, and OMRI listed pot, they work really well.

Tray of transplant pots.

Once I remove the transplant from the seed starting cell I cut off the bottom leaves from the transplant. When I place the transplant in the new pot I make sure to bury the stem deeper then it previously was, to help encourage the development of a stronger root system. I only let the top leaves and a little of the stem stick above the mixture in the pot.

Tomato transplant with lower leaves removed.

Note: make sure to move the plant labels with the transplant so you don’t forget what was planted in the pot. I place the completed transplants back into the seed starting tray and place them under the grow lights. In a few weeks they should be ready to harden off outside.

Tray of completed tomato transplants.

Happy Growing…

Creating New Garden Plots

I finally completed my last two garden plots, now giving me a total of 4 plots to plant in.

The two new garden plots.

I created these plots the same way I have been creating plots since I first started gardening years ago. In fact, this is about the sixth time I had to cut sod to create a garden.

First I start by determining how big I want the garden plot to be and how much space I want to leave between the plots. For these plots the formula is simple: 4 ft. wide and 16 ft long with 3 ft. between all plots.

Since I wanted to place my new plot 3 ft. from my existing plot, I measured 3 ft. from the corner of the existing plot and drove a stake into the ground. Then I did the same thing at the opposite end of the existing garden plot. I ran a string between the two stakes creating what would be the edge of my new garden plot. Using an old edging tool I follow the string down the edge of the plot cutting through the sod.

Once I have complete one side, I measure out 4 ft. from each corner stake and then drove a new stake into each corner. I then connect both of those stakes with string to create the opposite edge of the plot. Like the other side, I slowly work my way down the string using the edging tool to cut the sod. When both sides are completed, I cut the sod at each end of the plot. Since these plots are only 4 ft wide I just eye up my edge and work my way across the plot.

Laying out the new garden plots.

Once the perimeter of the new plot was cut I worked my way down the bed using my edging tool to cut 18 inch wide sections of sod. I then used a standard spade shovel to remove the 18 inch wide section of sod, making sure to leave as much soil in the garden as possible. I used the sod that I removed as filler around my property.

The process of creating a new garden plot.

Once all the sod was removed I covered each plot with some decomposing leaves from the fall. In a few weeks I will run the rototiller through each plot, making sure the decomposing leaves are turned into the soil.

The completed two new garden plots.

Now with these two plots complete, I can focus on more growing.

Happy growing….

The First Harvest of 2012

Today I took my first harvest from the garden. I harvested a few leaves of spinach and swiss chard from plants that I had started late last fall and kept under a cold frame all winter.

A bowl of spinach and swiss chard.

The spinach was very sweet. In fact, I never before had spinach that tasted that sweet. It is the Bloomsdale variety of spinach and it’s a keeper. The swiss chard was also very good.

I had plans to make a homemade white pizza for dinner, so I decided to add a little spinach and swiss chard to the white pizza. What a great addition.

Homemade white pizza before baking.

I made a homemade white sauce for on the pizza with heavy cream, olive oil, onions, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. This was the first time I had made this sauce and it was great.

Homemade white pizza after baking.

This was a great pizza, but then I never met a pizza I didn’t like.

Happy growing….

It’s Mr. Potato Time

It’s time to plant the potatoes. Potatoes are the only crop I do not grow at my house. I grow them across town at my grandfather’s house in a patch that we share with he and my parents. It’s really nice having a separate place to grow potatoes because of the amount of space they take up.

This year we are growing three types of potatoes; red pontiac, yukon gold, and katahdin. We have grown all three of these varieties in the past and all have produced nicely. At our local hardware/garden store we are able to buy seed potatoes by the pound. They sell them for $0.59 a lb.,which seems like a good deal compared to the prices in the seed catalogs.

Seed PotatoesBefore we started planting we ran the rototiller through the garden to turn over the soil.

The potato patch before the planting

The potato patch before the planting.

We do not plant our seed potatoes whole, we usually cut them into pieces making sure we have at least one or two eyes on each piece.

Cut seed potatoes

Cut seed potatoes.

We used one of the wheel paths created by the rototiller to plant potatoes in. Each piece of potato is placed in the row with the eyes facing up. We spaced the potatoes about 24 inches apart down the row and spaced each row about 30 to 36 inches apart. This should give the potatoes adequate room to grow.

A row of planted potatoes

A row of planted potatoes.

Once the row was planted we came back down the row raking soil back over the potatoes creating a mound. As the potatoes begin to grow we will go back down the row pulling more soil over the potatoes, making sure that the entire time the potatoes are growing they are covered up. Keeping the potatoes covered helps ensure that they are not exposed to light, which causes the outer layer of the potato to turn green.

A row of potatoes planted and covered.

A row of potatoes planted and covered.

The completed potato patch.

The completed potato patch.

The potatoes are planted.

Happy growing…

Planting Asparagus

One of the great things about asparagus is once you have the plants established it just keeps coming back each year. The only negative is that you really can’t start harvesting it until the third year. So for an asparagus lover those three years seem like an eternity. I had grown asparagus for about 7 years at my pervious house and now that we have moved, it’s time to start all over again.

Since asparagus is a perennial vegetable, I decided not to plant it in my standard vegetable beds. Instead I decided to plant it in an old flower bed along one of my buildings. Even though it is along the building, the bed gets really good sunlight in the morning and late afternoon. This seems like a great spot to try growing asparagus.

Last fall I had applied a thick layer of shredded leaves to the bed. So before I planted the asparagus, I turned over the soil in the bed several times and ran the small rototiller through it to make sure the soil was good and loose.

Preparing the Asparagus Bed

Asparagus Bed

I purchased 8 Mary Washington crowns from our local hardware/garden supply store.

Asparagus roots

Asparagus crowns

I dug 4 long ditches (about 6 inches deep) and placed two crowns in each ditch and spaced the crowns 18 inches apart.

Planting Asparagus Beds

Asparagus crowns in the bed.

I then covered all the crowns with about 3 inches of soil. In a few weeks when the asparagus begins to sprout I will apply another 3 inches of soil over top the plants.

Asparagus Bed Planted

Asparagus planted

Now with the asparagus planted the only thing left to do is sit back and wait three long years. I guess all great things take time.

Happy growing…

Garden Update 4-5-12

Spring is in the air and the garden is starting to show signs of life.

Pea seedlings

Pea Seedlings

All the pea seeds have germinated and the seedlings are growing well.

Peas and onions in the garden

Peas and Onions

Lettuce, Arugula, Swiss Chard and Spinach Seedlings

Lettuce, Arugula, Swiss Chard, and Spinach Seedlings

The arugula is off to a strong start but the lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach are not far off.

Plant from my fall planting

Plants from my late fall planting.

The carrots, swiss chard, and spinach that I planted late last fall and over wintered under the cold frame have started to grow again and should give us an early spring harvest.

Close up of plants from fall planting.

Plants from my late fall planting.

The year is off to a great start here at The Year Round Harvest.
Happy Growing…