Category Archives: Spring

Red coats are back!

Finally! The CG is officially planted!  It seemed to be taking eons to find the right combination of time and weather (mainly) to put the bed into action.  A week’s absence in May provided a view that the greens had indeed grown to thinning size.  Our beloved deer took advantage of my roses and apple buds in the house yard while I was gone.  Good thing two of us had a hunch he might show up, and we netted the greens before I left.
Memorial Day late afternoon and a subsequent evening accommodated all the corn, squash, melons, and beans sowing we desired, along with tomato transplants.  Red jackets a must for the tomatoes, given our constantly-shifting weather.
Six pounds of overwintering kale and chard was harvested and cut so new could be seeded.  Most went to the food bank.
A recent hot-spot weekend had us configuring grabbing and connecting the water hoses.  Soaker hose layout coming up soon.

Red coats are back!

Anybody feeling time compression?  I can’t keep up!


A spot of spring……

If the chairs are out front, then it is officially the start of our CG!  We were granted a brief reprieve on April 3rd, from any significant precipitation, and were able to spend time seeding various lettuces, spinach, scallions, and mesclun mix.  I was contemplating doing a “sun dance” to invite the solar rays to part the weather system.

Chairs are out...the CG is in session!

As beautiful as the soil is, it is still so wet, that turning fertilizer in by shovel was a bit more than our bodies wanted to deal with.  For now we scratched in some 6-4-2 organic blend in the planting area, and will side-dress more as the plants become bigger.  Hopefully, before mid-May, we will dry out more, so the rest of the area can be turned before warm weather veggies are brought in.

Really, there are seeds in the ground.

We take the sun when we can get it!  Many locals are feeling like it would be good to have much more….SUN…..please!  In the last couple of weeks there have been a few 1-shot days scattered amongst the confusion of rain, drizzle, and hail.  Even a little more snow in the foothills.  Hail? That means it is spring.

Brightest color spots to herald spring...

Today there are a couple of rows of “green” showing, so our little seeds are responding to the call of father Sun and mother Earth.  Hooray!

Red jackets & tomatoes

Fortunately, hardly anyone witnessed the laying out of soaker hoses one evening while it was chilly and threatening to sprinkle.  We would have been deemed crazy, as there we were in our fleece jackets and sweats.  There was only one quizzical look.  Truly, the hoses would have been useful four days earlier when we actually had two consecutively warm days, and the lettuce, kale, and chard went into minor shock.  What was supposed to be a warm and sunny week, with only 1 day of “cooler interference”,  morphed into 5 days of below-normal temperatures with little sun.  (Not sure anymore when we’ll actually see 3 consecutive days of mostly sun.)

Which is why the tomatoes are staying wrapped up in their airy red jackets!

Tomatoes with red jackets to help cope with Juneuary weather

Yes, we are grateful for not being deluged with tornadoes, rain and floods, as others are enduring.  And yes, it is perfect weather for planting.

At the same time, some of our plants would love to bathe in more light and warmth, so they grow well.

We’re ready for summer!  Or some semblance of it……

Greens galore! June 12-2010

Happy 1st birthday CG!

Why is it that the best weather of a 3-day weekend arrives after 4:30 pm on the final day?  Nevertheless it was an excellent weekend to move ahead with garden tasks, dodging drizzles and rain.  Although we don’t have the exceptionally fine weather that blessed our initial project one year ago, we celebrated by seeding the first phase of summer veggies.  As various CG members filtered into town from their various journeys, different tasks were done, depending on who showed up and when.

With the air and soil temperatures being nearly equal at 70°F we seeded various squash, melon, and cucumber cultivars, corn, and basil.  (Check out our 2010 planting list here.) One minute it was threatening rain, the next a few light rays of sun peaking through the clouds to make one want to don shorts; but wait 5 minutes, and the sun is gone.  Do I need another shirt again? Yes.  Wait, now I’m too warm.  It came down to rolling up the jeans and a t-shirt.

Taking a stroll through the house yard to check on tomato seedlings keeping warm in their little greenhouse, my mouth dropped as I spied a group of deer pellets on some grass.  Never in my residency here has one come this far into the yard!  We decided to grab netting and place it over the cool weather crops immediately.  He hadn’t managed to sample anything yet.  (I think it’s the same young male who visited solo last year.)  While tying out cloth strips soaked in Irish Spring soap solution on various young fruit trees and roses, I did notice some rose tips “nipped in the bud”.

Here is an update to the final harvest tally of our 2009 plantings, contributed to by our overwintering kale and leeks, which were removed in May for more garden prep:

  • Kale: 10 (pounds)
  • Leeks: 3.25

Bringing our 2009 grand total to……592 pounds!

As we celebrate our first birthday we have a new 2010 tally, from harvesting the thinnings of early spring plantings during April and May:

  • Beet greens: 1.5 pounds
  • Kale: 2.5
  • Lettuce blends: 7.5
  • Spinach: 2

Total: 12.75 pounds            Off to a great start!


Yes, this weather IS perfect for…some green veggies (thank you!); and it is perfect for transplanting some 360-plus plugs of Scotch moss amidst my new walkway stepping stones.  And, the rain IS good for cleaning the air of various pollens which went out of control during the 3 days of sunny, warm weather we enjoyed mid-month.  The winds that accompanied the clear weather required a hose hook-up to water the veggies in the CG!  In that marvellous weekend we experienced some real May, after having survived Februmay.

Cool weather crops enjoying the Marchmay weather!

Alas, we’re now in Marchmay, along with a gamut of weather tricks.  The petunias look smaller than when I planted them 3 weeks ago, and the tiny zinnias are struggling.  The lobelia looks happy at least.  Time to thwart slugs again; they’re chomping on an artichoke seedling.

Gnome biding his time, hoping for warmer days.

The strawberry plants are blooming very well now, which means….late berries, maybe a good thing.

Strawberry blossoms coming on strong; we need some strong sun, too!

Good news!  Thinnings of lettuces, spinach, beets, and kale have contributed several pounds towards our new harvest tally, to be posted in early June.  With several CG members on holiday until Memorial Day weekend, I persuaded some neighbors and friends to share the bounty.  We’ve postponed planting squash, melon, and cucumber seeds until Memorial Day, although the soil is nicely warm, independent of the weather events.

Aspen needs to sample everything...lettuce, kale...not fussy at all.

While thinning chard and spinach, I was briefly perplexed about the spotty blemishes that seemed to have appeared just in the last few days, separate from the chronic leaf-miner damage.  I’d already discovered a layer of dried raindrops laden with pollen on the red lettuce, but this was different.  Oh…right! Try hail damage; at least the leaves weren’t punctured!

Update on ladybugs: they’re all hiding; maybe boycotting for more sun.

Ladybugs…workers and slackers

There’s a reason there are a few hundred ladybugs in a bag when you purchase them.  They don’t like to stay in one area, even with a food source; some don’t survive; and some refuse to go to work, even if presented with a banquet.  I think a bunch of mine had other ideas in mind.  It’s always fun checking around to see where they might be hiding after being released last evening, scattered over some roses, lavender, Jerusalem sage, and particularly upon a honeysuckle smothered with aphids.  For some reason, this is the mother-lode plant for aphids this spring.  Perhaps it is offering to serve as the prime bait plant, so as to lure them away from other plants.

While one worker has more than enough aphids to contend with, another two have "other ideas"...

Must be the feel of real spring in the wind! Irresistible to ladybugs who have been squashed together in a mesh bag for weeks. Maybe they decided they needed to generate more troops to contend with more aphids…..hooray!

Lavender is a great place to party....without aphids. Shhh....don't ask!

Something in the way it froze last December

Rewind: an unusually hard, but short freeze around December 2, 2009, after a long, relatively warm fall.  Very little in the way of freezing temperatures for the rest of the month; much of January and February were very warm.

Fast forward: April had several frosty mornings, colder and wetter than average temperatures.

Results: more weeds than I’ve ever had in the yard, including big crops of maple seedlings.  Several “hardy” perennials appear to be dead, though they’ve survived harsher winters; I’m still holding out hope for some of the late-to-wakers.  Tender perennials, like some of the sages, I’d expect to lose, even with mulching.  Alas, my young apricot tree is diseased with bacterial canker (causal organism: Pseudomonas syringae), probably induced by weather-related stresses.  Double rats!

It’s always a puzzler when plants survive typical winter periods of cold temperatures just fine, then die after a winter of milder temperatures.  But, that one cold snap came so early in December, with little chilling preparation ahead of it, and some plants physiologically weren’t ready to cope.  Sigh….

April…come what May

April….spring….is always shifty in relation to weather, but this year feels less normal “than normal”.  This isn’t surprising to some of us who can feel the invisible shift in planetary energetics.  Strong fluctuations of Earth’s geomagnetic fields, episodes of solar winds, coinciding with increased tectonic activity around the world, just might influence weather patterns and people’s energy, though we won’t hear of it via traditional technology or the media.

Slowly but surely there is growth. The large overwintering kale doesn't count....

April has taken forever to get through; it seems like eons ago that we put in our first cool-crops in the CG.  Happily, they germinated well despite heavy rains just after seeding.  They have survived several episodes of hail, heavy rain and wind storms, frost, and “much lower than average” temperatures for the month.  We could call it….Apruary.  Somehow February and April got mixed up. But the sporadic days of sun between storms have brought us snippets of warmth, enough for the plants to show some substance, so initial thinnings were just made.  Love those tasty kale, lettuce, spinach, and pea sprouts! I decided to try potatoes again this year, so planted them last week.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a decent crop.  I think I heard something about a warming trend in early May.  Yes! Please, oh please.

Aspen beginning his tentative first outdoor explorations: his motto seems to be "always safer to hunker down and watch".

Where's Juniper? Where's Aspen? We know you're there....somewhere.

So, what is the current bumper crop? Weeds!

Spring is sprung!

Some classic spring weather to start off our early spring planting.  It was exceptionally warm on the official first day of spring, followed by colder rain showers the next day, when we were scheduled to plant (of course).  But, it held off perfectly for us when it came to assembly time.  I dashed in and out between showers beforehand to survey and lay out some boundary lines for the planting.  Because I’m curious about soil temperature, of course, I measured it: 53°F, and the air temperature was about 54° when we planted.

A little soil prep before planting

It was wonderful to finally kick-off the garden season, and we were in high spirits.  A little weeding, some fertilizing, shoveling and raking it in, and then…..seed sowing!  To start off: a couple of rows of lettuce, a row each of Swiss chard, scallions, and beets, and a row split to spinach and kale.   The kale started growing so fast we were able to harvest 1 pound of it about the time we quit!  Just kidding.  The harvest was from some overwintering kale, that is starting to flower and needs to get used up.  Then there was a consensus to plant snap peas and some mesclun greens mix, which will be added during the coming week.

And now, for the patience part.

Two-thirds of the early spring planting crew...and Juniper nowhere to be seen.

June is busting out all over…

It is amazing how much has germinated in a week, thanks to warm weather.  More peppers and tomatoes have been planted, as well as climbing and bush nasturtium seeds, to add some color.  The weather has shifted to an unusual daily thunderstorm pattern, which will give us some watering respite.