Subscribe via Email

If you're not receiving email notifications of new posts, subscribe by entering your email...

Planning a Vegetable Garden to Extend the Season Workshop at Winterfare

Winterfare shoppers February 4, 2012

My Planning a Vegetable Garden to Extend the Season Workshop at Winterfare on  February 2 will give attendees some things to think about when they are planning their vegetables gardens and some  tips. Hope to see you Saturday at 11 am at Greenfield Hight School.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Taking Stock of Experiments and Projects

The Roses had a successful year

Every spring we begin the gardening season with new energy and new plans. After a winter of reading and thinking we stride out into the spring sun to build and dig, to add and subtract with confidence and high hopes.

In the fall, while we are hoping we still have time to plant some bulbs (we do) it is time to review and see how our projects and experiments turned out.

Our big project this year was really big – an eight foot fence around the vegetable garden to keep out the deer. The fence protects the vegetables, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and lettuce that the deer really decimated last year, but it also encircles the red raspberry patch, and the row of black raspberries.

The fence is successful in that it does keep out the deer, and seemed to be keeping out the rabbits so we were happy. The crop rotation put the Brussels sprouts in a new bed where they did not do well so that bed got an extra helping of compost this fall. It is newly planted to garlic which will be harvested in July.

Garlic Harvest 2012

The garlic crop, my second, was a big success, and I give a lot of the credit to seed garlic that I got from my neighbor Rol Hesselbart. Huge cloves!

Floating Row Cover on planting bed

My first experiment in the spring was using floating row covers in the Early Garden right in front of the house. This protected spot was created by the lasagna method in 2010, an experiment that was wonderfully successful. The soil is fertile, well drained and gets sun all day long. It is a great place to plant greens early in the season. Last year the rabbits thought so, too.

I thought that the floating row covers which are designed to get crops off to an early start would also protect them from the rabbits because the covers are pinned down. I was right and I was able to harvest lettuces and other greens for my own meals. The rabbits had to make do with nibbling the lawn.

Apparently by August the rabbits had found a way into the fenced vegetable garden so the late planting of greens was attacked. It took me a while to remember that floating row covers work as protection. Better late than never. The row covers were arranged and I was able to get a small harvest there.

Some may remember the great Tomatoes in a Strawbale experiment that left my husband wounded and bloody. This experiment was not very successful. The hole in the strawbale to hold compost was so difficult to create that we did not make it very big. I did not think this was too important. I thought the roots would grow into the wet and rotting straw and get sufficient nutrition. I was wrong.

The strawbale was placed at the end of the Herb Bed where it was regularly watered. The two cherry tomato plants I inserted into the compost and straw grew and produced fruit, but without the vigor they had in the vegetable garden. When I recently pulled the frosted plants out of the strawbale I saw that the roots were stunted. They had not been able to grow strongly through the bale as I expected.

What could I have done differently? When I saw that the young plants were not really thriving I could have begun a fertilization schedule as I do with my potted annuals.

If I want to try this next year, what can I do that will bring more success? I can make a larger planting hole.

If I want to change the experiment slightly what can I do? Instead of using a strawbale, which has the advantage of being weed free, but is very dense and not as I nutritious as I thought, I could use a haybale. Daniel Botkin of Laughing Dog Farm in Gill told me that if I leave a haybale out in the weather all winter any weed seeds will rot and the hay can be used as a planting site or as mulch with no danger of importing seeds.

Because the point of an experiment is to learn, no experiment can ever be called a total failure. A hypothesis, such as tomatoes can grow well in a strawbale, is tested. The results of the hypothesis are evaluated and examined. The tomatoes did not grow well because the root system did not develop properly. Then a new hypothesis can be considered, and tested next year.

As a gardener I sometimes feel I am perpetually in a high school science class. And that is a good thing. Therefore, I have already picked up four haybales and stationed them in the garden for further experiments next spring.

What experiments did you try this year? Did you get the results you desired or expected? Did you learn enough to formulate a new hypothesis? Please let me hear from you by emailing commonweeder@gmail.com and we can compare notes in a future column. ###

Between the Rows  November 3, 2012

The chickens had a happy year, too.

 

Tillage Radish – Another Cover Crop

Tillage Radishes

Tillage radish is a  cover crop I had never heard of until this summer. One of the amazing things about the tillage radish is its rapid growth. After my neighbor Rol harvested his garlic he planted this bed to tillage radishes in mid-July. Already the wide row is completely covered with lush foliage that will die down once we have a killing frost.  The long daikon radish roots that have developed will also rot over the course of the winter. In spring the bed will be ready for planting. Very little weeding or tilling will be required and the soil will be well nourished with more organic matter.

Green Manure, Winter Wheat and Turnips

Fall planted 'Hakurei' turnip seedlings

Green manure is a crop that is planted in the fall; its purpose is to improve soil fertility and tilth in the spring. I have just seeded a fall green manure mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in three of my newly weeded and watered (thanks to the rain) garden beds.

This mix contains annual seeds like crimson clover, annual rye grass and yellow peas, as well as winter rye and hairy vetch that will go dormant but begin growing again in the spring. The annual crops will die and rot in place; the rye and vetch will need to be cut down and then turned under.

Green manures serve several functions. First, they are called cover crops because they cover the soil during the fall and winter seasons and prevent soil erosion by wind or heavy rain.

Second, cover crops suppress weeds by covering the soil so wind borne seeds cannot find a place to germinate. They also help crowd out weeds. This is especially important to me this year because the droughty summer of 2012 was the weediest year I have ever endured

Third, they provide nutrients to the soil. Legumes like hairy vetch, yellow peas and crimson clover fix nitrogen in the soil making it available to the crops that will follow. Non-legumes like rye will add organic matter to the soil. I never have enough compost for my garden so by growing a cover crop I will get the additional organic matter I want. This organic material improves soil structure, helping both sandy and clay soils.

Fourth, the deep roots of cover crops help break up compacted soil and bring nutrients closer to the surface where it can be used by the next crops.             .

Fifth and finally, cover crops act as a part of the crop rotation plan. It is always important to rotate crops from season to season, letting light feeders like lettuce follow heavy feeders like squash, and preventing crops from the same family, like potatoes and tomatoes, from following each other because they are susceptible to the same diseases and insects.

That’s a lot of benefit from a $6 packet of mixed seed. Cover crops are an inexpensive way of sustainably maintaining soil fertility and tilth, and keeping down weed growth which will mean less work for me over the course of the season. I have known about the benefits of cover crops, but have never tried to plant them before because of my own misunderstanding.

I did not understand that not all cover crops need to be cut down in the spring. Annual crops are winter killed. Nor did I understand that the young tender growth of winter rye could be cut and turned under with relative ease, and that the tender growth would rot quickly. I envisioned myself digging up, armed only with a spade, great heavy clods of grassy rye that would make planting all but impossible. Now that I have a better understanding of the process I am eagerly trying cover cropping. I might only learn, this first time, what misunderstandings on my part I have not yet uncovered.

I have also just learned about a new cover crop. Tillage radishes. The familiar daikon radish can act as a cover crop when planted in late August. My friend, Rol Hesselbart, has planted one of his wide garden beds with these radishes and the new growth has nearly covered the ground already.

Tillage or forage radishes supply all the benefits of other annual cover crops, but their long fleshy roots rot quickly in the spring and provide an early supply of nitrogen, as well as other nutrients, and a good helping of organic matter. No tilling is needed in that bed in the spring because the radishes have died over the winter. The bed is ready for spring planting without any further work. Sounds like a pretty good deal. I will be watching Hesslebart’s experimental bed to see how it does.

I am not only planting cover crops this fall. Fall is as important a planting season as spring. I will plant my garlic in October and mulch the bed heavily with straw. Garlic will begin to grow again early in the spring and will be harvested in July. That will leave me with a very weed free bed to plant with crops like beets, broccoli, turnips that will ripen before the first hard frost. My garlic did win second prize at the Heath Fair this year.

I also going planted one wide vegetable bed with Rouge de Bordeaux, a winter wheat that will also be ready for harvest in July. I bought my ounce of seed from the Heritage Wheat Conservancy. Thinking of harvesting wheat I am feeling a bit like the little red hen who planted wheat, threshed it, ground it, and then baked it into a beautiful loaf of bread all by herself. I am not nearly as worried about growing or even threshing my wheat as I am about grinding or milling it. I may end up with a very dense loaf of bread. I’ll just call it rustic.

The wheat will also act as a cover crop. It will keep down weeds, and the rotting roots will enrich my soil after the wheat is harvested. I’ll also have a little bundle of straw to use as mulch and, of course, I’ll have my wheat. I love multi-functional plants!

Between the Rows  September 1, 2012

Fall Planting

Rabbits don't like garlic

Spring planting did not go happily for me what with the rabbits coming along and eating  each little shoot as it came up. Since spring we have added new resources – a big fence around the vegetable garden, and row covers. Therefore I am going to try for a fall crop in ways that I have not before.

I took a look at the seeds I have leftover from the spring and realized that many of them can be harvested after a short season. Tango lettuce from High Mowing is ready as a baby lettuce in 28 days, and at full size in only 45 days. Renee’s Garden’s Wine Country Mesclun is ready in 40 days. Red Ace beet from Johnny’s Selected Seeds is mature in 50 days. Of course, if I don’t get mature beets, I’ll at least have a harvest of beet greens.

Champion radish from Agway is possibly ready in as little as 20 days, and the package says it can be planted as late  as September 30. Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach from Hart’s Seeds is ready for harvest in 45 days and is suitable for late summer planting. Cilantro is an herb that grows and ripens so fast that it is also a candidate for the late summer garden.

If I had thought ahead, I could have started broccoli seeds indoors and planted seedlings instead of seeds in this fall garden. If I had thought ahead I might be prepared with seeds of a whole variety of Asian greens like Tatsoi and Red Choi from Johnny’s. Both of these can be harvest as baby greens. Next year.

Encouraged by my review of my seeds I set to work. So far I have cleaned out one narrow weed infested bed. While other plants are struggling this droughty summer in Heath the weeds like it just fine. I have never seen so many weeds. But they are gone now. At least from that one bed. I added a load of compost and watered the bed.

The soil is so dry that I thought it wise to give it a good watering before I planted spinach, carrots, mesclun, and lettuce. Johnny’s Selected Seeds website (www.Johnnyseeds.com) has a great page that lists a good number of vegetables that can be planted in August and September. I don’t have all the specific varieties the page mentions, but all I need is a glance at my seed packages to tell how many days it will take for each variety to mature, or be ready to eat as a baby.

It is important to remember that the days are getting shorter and this means that vegetables will take a little longer to mature than listed.

Since I had such good luck using row covers to foil the rabbits, I am equipped to use them to protect this late planting from the frost. My row covers do not need hoops to hold them up. They float over the seedlings and vegetables as they grow and allow sun and rain to penetrate,  but not the frost.

Historically I have a long frost free season because the nearly constant breezes on our hill blow the early autumnal frost down the south slope and leave it on my neighbor’s garden.

No one will forget Irene on August 28 last year. After the storm unusually warm and rainy weather lasted until October 4 when we had our first frost here. Then the weather became mild again, with daytime temperatures in the 50s, until October 24 when I again noted a light frost in my garden journal. Then came the trick or treat snowstorm on October 29.

I think row covers will easily moderate fall weather long enough to get in a bonus harvest. Unless we have an even earlier snowstorm this year.

Not all the garden was over taken by weeds. We’ve been eating chard and various lettuces for weeks. I’m harvesting zucchini and summer squash. It would be a bad summer indeed if I didn’t get summer squash.  I have a beautiful garlic harvest drying on the piazza and I’m still harvesting two late plantings of lettuce. I picked my first cucumber this week.

Cherry tomatoes in a strawbale

The tomatoes in the vegetable garden are doing well, but are not nearly ripe. The cherry tomatoes I planted  in the straw bale are ripening, but the plants are not nearly as vigorous as the one in the garden. Leeks and onions are slowly coming along, but the bush beans should be ready any minute. You may think I am getting a very late summer harvest, but you have to remember all those hungry rabbits.

I am continuing to clean out weedy planting beds. Because weeds have been such a problem this year I am going to plant a green manure crop. I have never planted a cover crop before so this will be another experiment. Johnny’s has a fall green manure mix that will start growing now, but many of the plant varieties will winter kill. In the spring only the rye will revive. I’ll cut that down and then dig the winter rye and the other dead plants and roots into the soil. This will add nutrition and organic matter to the soil, and I hope it will also help control late summer and early spring weeds.

How has your garden handled the drought this year? Have you found new ways to meet the challenges of the  weather? I’d love to hear from readers. You can send questions and comments to me at commonweeder@gmail.com. I will reply to all questions and comments. ###

Between the Rows    August 4, 2012

Rol’s Vegetable Garden – Productive and Beautiful

Eggplant, onion, aparagus

Rol’s vegetable garden is one of the wonders of Heath. His is one of two very different gardens that I visited last week. My neighbor Rol is the garlic and onion king. This spring he coordinated a group order of onions from Dixondale Farm. I  bought 60, and though we planted at the same time I can tell you that my onions look nothing like his. Weeding and watering seem to be  key elements to success.

Raised onion bed

Many of Rol’s vegetables are grown in slightly raised beds. Here is his tip. Use 2×4 pieces of wood (or slightly smaller) held in place by wooden stakes about 18 inches apart and pile up the soil inside. This is just enough to help drainage. At the end of the season pull up the wood and you’ll have no trouble tilling the soil. Rol is a gardener who believes in tilling and weeding and he has beautiful rich organic soil. At the end of the season he tills in all his mulch. You can see  that his onions have reached a splendid size.

Garlic - ready to harvest

Rol has been starting to harvest his prize winning garlic. The last of the harvest will be coming out soon.

Drying Garlic

As I looked at the garlic crop drying I realize there is no chance my garlic will give him much competition at the Heath Fair, even though he did start me off with good seed garlic.

Potatoes in hay bales

He thought he’d try an experiment and planted potatoes in hay bales. Very important to keep these watered.

Tomatillos

His first attempt at tomatillos is a great success. So beautiful. Just like little lanterns.

Tomato plants

Rol’s tomato plants are at least as tall as I am.

Acorn squash - not ripe yet

The acorn squash, like the baled potatoes, grows outside the vegetable garden fence. I wonder what will grow outside the fence next year. Or will the fence have to move?

Rol is a passionate and skilled gardener. And an inspiration!  I wish I liked to weed as much as he does. In 2010 I wrote about Rol and his garlic here.

It’s Summer – Viewing, Touring and Paddling

Irises at Fox Brook Iris Farm

It’s summer and I’ve been out viewing plants and gardens and then relaxing at a local pond. Summer doesn’t get any more perfect than this.

Japanese Iris

I went to the Annual Japanese Iris Show in Shelburne Falls and got to see the best and most beautiful examples of Japanese Iris grown in the area. Japanese iris are the last iris to bloom in our area. After seeing this display of irises, I had to run over to Fox Brook Iris Farm and, of course, I came home with two generous clumps of a gorgeous white iris named Hakuroku-Ten. Right now it is planted in front of the house where I can keep it well watered. That’s what Japanese iris demand – good watering.

Hawley Garden Tour feature

Then, I visited two of the gardens that are on the Sons and Daughters of Hawley Annual Artisans and Garden Tour scheduled for July 14. The McCarthy garden has sun, shade, water, grasses, and delightful art objects like this beautiful birdhouse. This is a garden that has recovered amazingly from the disastrous storm Irene last August. Summer time in Hawley is full of delights.

Sea Foam roses

The Hoffman/Pope gardens have sun and shade, too. More roses than I remembered.  Formal evergreen structures.

Heirloom tomato collection

And a beautiful vegetable garden. Where the hoe and the hose are in frequent use. This incredible plantation of heirloom tomatoes has inspired me to stop by their house often in August. They can’t possibly use all those tomatoes!

For more information about tickets and the tour call Rainey McCarthy 339-5347, Melanie Poudrier 337-4903, or Pam Shrimpton 339-4091. .

 

Henry paddling

We also spent Sunday afternoon with friends at a local pond, noshing, talking, paddling, talking, swimming, talking and more noshing. Shade and a breeze. Summer perfection.

Sunset

After a weekend  like that we are glad to see the  sunset, close up the chickens, and settle down with the Sunday New York Times before trickling off to bed.

Gardening in a Straw Bale

Tomatoes planted in a strawbale

When I visited Daniel Botkin of Laughing Dog Farm some time ago, he showed me how he did a lot of planting in goat manure-laced hay. I envied his access to so much bedding because it does provide plants with nutrition and eliminates weeds. No fertilizing. No weeding. He is a lucky man to have manured goat bedding from his barn, as well and old hay bales. He said he doesn’t use the hay bales for planting until they have aged and rotted for a year. Any weed seeds would have sprouted and then died before he used it for planting.

Lacking goat bedding, I thought I would try planting in a straw bale which seems to be one of the new trends this year. No fertilizing and no weeds. Actually I have to confess that I tried this project the summer of 2010, but failed miserably, so I know all the mistakes there are to make.

The first mistake I made was not locating my bale where I would see it and remember to water it every day, just as I would water any container planting.

The second mistake was not preparing the straw bale ahead of time, which is to say, not keeping it soaked for two weeks to start the rotting process.

This time I located the straw bale right at the end of my herb bed in front of the house, practically right next to the water spigot.  I set it on top of a couple of layers of plastic sheeting to prevent weeds from growing into it. Every day for two weeks I watered the bale, sometimes letting water drip slowly into it, and sometimes pushing the hose nozzle deeper into the bale  from different angles. Hay and straw are very firmly packed into their bales and they can absorb a lot of water.

You can plant anything you want in a straw bale, and this technique is useful if you have limited space, really poor soil, or even no soil. You can just set the bale on a cement walkway.

This week I bought a six pack of Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, two of which will be planted in my bale. The mature plants can just rest on the bale and I won’t have to worry about the tomatoes rotting on wet soil.

So far things had been going well. No hard work at all. However, now I had to cut two planting holes into the bale. I pressed my husband Henry into service and gave him my Hori knife, a big, sharp serrated knife designed for use in the garden.

Once again, a reminder. A packed straw bale is very dense. Cutting into it is very difficult even with a Hori knife. It didn’t help that  it started to rain as he worked. The knife became slippery – and slipped. Blood everywhere, but no stitches required. First aid attended to with a necessarily absorbent bandage, he retired. I put the knife aside and pulled enough straw out of the holes he had hacked out to hold a couple of quarts (approximately) of compost for planting.

After half filling the holes with compost, I followed my usual tomato planting technique. I removed the bottom couple of branchlets from my two seedlings and put one in each hole deep enough to cover at least half the stem, and watering as I would any half planted seedling. I added more compost to fill the hole, and watered again.

The rain is continuing, on and off, as I write, but I will continue to water the straw bale and not depend only on rainfall. I will keep you posted on the progress of the tomatoes.

I already used the straw I pulled out of the bale to use as mulch in the vegetable garden. I am wondering if I can get two planting seasons out of the bale, or if it will be suitable only for mulch in the spring. More information gathering required.

I like this addition to the herb bed which runs along nearly two thirds of the front of our house. Part of the final third is the Early Garden where I planted greens under floating row covers this spring. The row covers have a dual purpose, to allow a jump on the growing season, and especially to foil the rabbits that ate most of my garden last year.

We have seen the rabbits, and seen the damage they did to ornamental alliums in the Lawn Beds, so I know they are around and hungry, but they have not been able to get my beautiful lettuces.

We have been eating delicious green salads out of the Early Garden for the past two weeks which is a record for us. Although I am no longer worried about frost, I am keeping the floating row covers on. They do actually float over the tops of the mature lettuces without constraining them in any way. The rabbits remain foiled.

Between the Rows  May 26, 2012

 

My Soil Test Reveals All – Not Bad!

Newly planted onion bed

I had not yet received the results of my soil test from UMass when my onion sets arrived from Dixondale Farms. I wanted to get them right in the ground, but I was worried about my soil pH. Dixondale says onions prefer a pH between 6.2 and 6.8. I feared my soil might be too acidic for optimum results so I tilled in another couple of handfuls of lime before I planted the onions.

Two days later I got my soil test results. I was quite amazed. My pH is 6.6. I hope I didn’t make the s oil too alkaline with that extra lime. No more liming the vegetable garden for a while!

I also have high levels of phosphorous and potassium. I guess those occasional and undocumented additions of rock phosphate and greensand over the past couple of years paid off. The recommendation was to add nitrogen. As it happens I have a 4 pound bag of dried blood – and that is exactly the amount for 100 square feet of planting beds. I actually bought the dried blood to sprinkle around beds attractive to rabbits.

The final important result of the soil test is the calculation that I have 9% organic matter. The recommendation is to have between 4-10% organic matter. Hooray! All that compost is working.

Early garden in disarray

This morning when I looked out at the Early Garden I saw the row cover pulled aside. I know we have had a lot of wind, but the row cover is pinned down with rocks – also disturbed and moved. Could it have been the rabbit I saw jumping off the bank when I drove in last night in the dark? I’ll have to buy another bag of dried blood to sprinkle around the Early Garden beds, in addition to the row covers which I  thought would be deterrent enough. Good news and a warning. More rabbit deterrents. At least he didn’t have a chance to eat anything.

 

Seed Starting

Ready to start seeds March 6, 2012

It seemed a little early but on March 6th I started some seeds indoors. Now, three weeks later it seems like it might have been totally unnecessary. I have neighbors who tilled sections of their garden and have already planted a number of cold hardy plants: lettuces, spinach, snap peas, carrots and beets.

Who can gauge the risks in times like these? I might have been too cautious in starting my seeds, but my neighbors may have been too bold. Actually, I hope they have not been too bold because I am about ready to follow in their footsteps. I tilled what I am calling my Early Garden right in front of the house.  I planted Tango lettuce, radishes and golden beets. They are watered and now I wait.

At the same time I continue to hedge my bets and I am starting some other seeds, broccoli and parsley.

Whether or not it is a necessary step in getting a jump on the season, or an economic move – getting dozens if not hundreds of plants from a pack of seeds instead of six seedlings for the same price – starting your own seeds is fun.

I do use seed starting supplies. The little plastic six packs are cheap and disposable. The plastic trays that hold them and provide a good watering system can be used from year to year. Of course, you can use plastic containers that you get in the supermarket for grape tomatoes, mushrooms or salad mix just as well. I like to reuse before recycling and double my sense of thrift.

After assembling my equipment, six packs, trays, and label sticks, I dampened a bowl of seed starting mix, a light soiless mix, and filled the six packs very full and tamped it down. Then using seeds leftover from last year I planted a few seeds in each cell: Johnny’s Winterbor kale, High Mowing’s Waldman’s Dark Green lettuce and Rouge d’Hiver lettuce; Botanical Interests Sundance Red Gallardia; and Renee’s Garden Raggedy Ann Zinnias that I just noticed dated back to 2006. I really have to weed out old seeds better.

I also planted two kinds of lettuce in a plastic spring mix container, but forgot to label them. One type is doing well, the other has poorer germination. I might be able to figure out what they are when they get larger, but I am not counting on it.

I planted several seeds in each cell, covering them with a little more seed starting mix, because these are last year’s seeds. I figure the germination might be a little lower, but you get a lot of lettuce seeds in one packet and I can afford to be generous.

Seedlings March 16, 2012

I put the seed tray in a south window where it has to be turned every day to keep the plants from always leaning. Seeds will germinate on a windowsill, but a few years ago I splurged and bought a heat mat that provides just the little bit of heat that helps seeds germinate more quickly. Soil temperature is a key element in the germination of any plant. Some like cool temperatures, and others don’t thrive until the soil is relatively warm.

Watering is key. The best way I have found to keep these six packs watered is to put enough water to cover the bottom of the tray where it will be absorbed by osmosis. That way you don’t have to worry about knocking the tiny seedlings down with a stream of water from a watering can. I water almost every day in this manner.

Within a week I could see green pushing through. Two weeks later the first true leaves have appeared. Now it is time to think about “hardening off” the seedlings.

These new seedlings are very tender. They need to be acclimated to the harshness of direct sun and wind slowly and gently. On these warm days they can be put in the shade outside for a few hours and then brought back in the house. Depending on the weather they can be left outdoors for longer and longer stretches each day, until they are strong enough to be planted in the ground. This will take at least a week.

I put my seedlings outdoors for three hours on March 21 and will increase that time every day. I plan to plant them in my Early Garden under a row cover next week. The row cover is not to protect the seedlings from the weather as much as it is to protect them from rabbits! When they get a little bigger I’ll be able to spray them with Deer Off or some such.

I have also used a little cold frame to harden seedlings off. I keep it open during the warm part of the day, using an old sheet to throw shade when necessary, and closing it late in the afternoon so it will be protected from colder nighttime temperatures.

Whether you choose to start seed to begin gardening early in the season, for reasons of thrift, or to have fun, growing plants from seed gives its own satisfaction. It is a joy to watch every step of a plant’s growth.

First day of hardening off March 22, 2012

Of course, since that first day in the sun and air, I have had to bring the seedlings in again. Below freezing temperatures and even hail have kept the tender plants inside, protected from this strange weather.

Between the Rows   March 24, 2012