First Seeds of 2012 Popping Up

Garden Starter Tray 2012It's been 5 days since we started our first batch of seeds for the 2012 garden.  The new little greenhouse seems to be working nicely keeping a nice temperature, but can't wait to get it outside in a month or so to try it out on hardening the transplants.

Was plesantly surprised to see a few things sprouting already.  It's nice to walk into that little greenhouse and smell the fresh soil ;o)  This weekend we'll start the next 3 trays of transplants... so excited!

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Seed Starting 2012

Snow all gone March 23, 2012

It's been a long winter, but Spring is coming!  Last week we got an unusual Heat Wave here in the Maritimes breaking records 3 days in a row.  27 Celcius in mid March was crazy and I hope it doesn't wreak havoc with Mother Nature going into Spring and Summer.

Our average last frost date is mid May, so we started our first batch of seeds over the weekend.  We are actually a few weeks later then last year, but I don't think it will make a huge difference.

This year we bought a small 4 tier green house that was on sale.  I've always had a hard time hardening my plants, mostly due to inexperience, but I hope this will help as we can move the entire green house outside when the temps are right.  We started 3 x 48 pod trays:

Tray 1
12 Fat'N'Sassy Peppers
6 Applaus Tomatoes
6 Sweet Heart Tomatoes
12 Golden Cherry Tomatoes
12 Paris Island Cos Lettuce

Tray 2
48 Scotia Tomatoes

Tray 3
24 Summer Dance Cuccumbers
12 Norstar Onions
12 Cabbage

As you can see, to say we love our tomatoes is an understatement ;o)  We want to bottle tomatoes and salsa for winter, something we thoroughly missed this past winter.

We have another 3 x 48 pod trays to start this week and have to finish the garden design for this season, but that will be another post ;o)

Wishing everyone a Happy Spring and Seed Starting Season!

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Winter Prepping Strawberries

Now that winter is rearing it's ugly head here in Eastern Canada, finally took the time to winter prep the strawberry beds.  Reminder to cover them up with straw for the winter.

Last year we did not cover our beds with straw, but we had lots of early snow before very cold freezing weather so were lucky.  The snow acted like a thermal barrier from the harsh cold.  This year we picked up 6 bales of straw to cover them up.

Straw is a good cover cause it's light and easy to remove in the Spring and reuse as mulch.  You want to use straw not hay, since straw has no grains in it.  Straw only contains the stalks of standing plants that contains no grains.

It's best to cover the plants with about 6" of straw when the temperatures start to dip into the freezing mark and leave it until just past your local last frost date.  The new flower buds are tender and susceptible to late spring frost so better to be safe than sorry ;o)

We plan on moving this bed out of the row garden as we transform it into raised beds, but that's another post all together.

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Homestead Plan: Year 1 Wrap Up

This was our first full year in our digs in the country.  We had an OK productive year, no thanks to the wet and cool weather over the summer.  Our garden consisted of one large row garden, approx 20x40ft, and some pilot projects like SIP containers and upside down hanging planters.  We had some good trout fishing this summer and so far hunting has provided good source of wild meat.

The self watering containers worked excellent!  Unfortunately our issue was they worked too well.  We planted our less than stellar seedlings and they just took over and choked themselves.  We planted too many per container and didn't thin them out enough causing them to stunt some and not produce as many tomatoes.  We won't make that mistake next year.  We will also come up with another idea for staking the tomatoes in the buckets.  We used traditional tomato stakes and they didn't work well.

Our hanging planters didn't do so well, but I assume this was more due to their placement.  I don't think the tomatoes and snow peas got enough sun where they were placed unfortunately.  We planted tomatoes underneath and snow peas on top which worked out pretty good, just not the yield expected... so we have some changes to their location for next year.

Extending the garden into the fall didn't go as planned as we got caught up with putting in a new septic bed.  We were planning on putting together some cold frames and some row covers, but timing was never right.  This was unfortunate, but we'll do a bit more research... we're shaking up the garden next year to convert the current row garden to raised beds.

So now that year 1 is almost over, we're already planning for next year.  We have the following goals for next year:

  • Start beekeeping... our first hive this Spring and still reading all we can on this topic
  • Planting our mini fruit orchard: Apples, Cherries and possibly some Peaches/Pears
  • Raised garden beds which includes provisions for row covers & cold frame covers
  • Proper documenting and tracking of the garden: planting dates, harvests, etc...
  • Front and rear decks including fire pit & pergola. Planters for herb garden and grape vines

Our extended plans should finances and time permit:

  • Plant dual layer tree wind break to help manage the crazy winds we get
  • Plant our grape rows in the front yard, table and wine grapes
  • Put up fencing to separate the different areas: Family Fun, Gardening, Mini Orchard, Animals
  • Finally add chickens to our homestead.

I'm sure our plans will change and grow over the winter, but you have to have a plan with some goals so you feel like you're getting somewhere.  Year 1 rant/summary done ;o)

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