The Squash Experiment

I’ve been neglecting the blog recently, but I’ve been taking good care of the plants.  Here’s a quick update on the squash planted the day before a predicted frost :

4-24-10:

5-07:

Here’s a close-up.  Baby squash!!   I used the male flower from the squash plant that’ s growing in a yogurt container in the house to hand pollinate the flower since this group of plants didn’t have any open male flowers.

5-12:  The squash is a little bigger and hasn’t fallen off.  Hopefully the hand pollinating took.

I’ve been putting two gallon bottles of warm water into the cold frame most nights and then covering the window of the frame with an exercise mat to keep in the warmth.  It’s the perfect size to cover the window and because it’s padded it’s got great insulation.   When it’s really cold like it’s been for the past week with overnight lows in the 30s and 40s I’ll still throw the frost blanket over the bed and/or pull the plastic covering over it. 

The only problem I’ve had so far is that there are so many pill bugs in the frame.  But they’re not bothering the plants, so I guess it’s okay.   I sure hope the weather warms up and stays warm because the next problem I’ll have is the squash growing to big to close the cold frame window.   The experiment so far is going well.

Happy Gardening!!

Sometimes it pays to take a chance

Last post I was taking a chance on the weather by transplanting my seedlings in the ground so early (transplanted on March 30).   Everything is growing just fine.

On the evenings when the weather goes under 50, I’ll pull the plastic cover over the bed to preserve the heat.

The greens I transplanted near the stairs are doing well also.  (Transplanted April 2).  I’ve been throwing the frost blanket over the bed on cold nights.

The same day I planted the greens (above), I planted the snow pea soil blocks, some more of the bright lights chard, and a mix of lettuce/chives/radish/carrot seeds.   The seeds are germinating now. 

The front of the bed (above)  has got my FreeCycle Stella D’Oro day lillies that I got last fall.  It was one big clump, but I divided it into smaller clumps.  I’ve also got some of the perennials planted there that I got from volunteering at The Great Perennial Divide last fall.  I can’t remember when, but I transplanted the spinach plants and a couple broccoli in with the perennials.  And then sometime before the 14th I planted the  turnip soil blocks that I triple sowed  (three seeds to one block).  Yeah, I know.  Turnips in seed blocks sounds a little unusual, but that’s me.  Unusual thoughts cross my mind.

I had one of those unusual thoughts when I was working in the yard yesterday.  I was looking at that hill of compost in the lettuce bed and was thinking of what kind of plant grows well in compost. 

Squash grows well in compost, but of course it’s too early to plant squash.  Then I was thinking if I had a way of covering the squash with a cloche or something, maybe I could just keep it covered.  But then I was thinking squash grows so fast, that wouldn’t work.  Then…one of those thoughts.  What if I buried the cold frame I made into the hill of compost and dig down a little bit .  Actually, that would be the only way I could really use the cold frame because, genius that I am, I used 4-inch wood to make a frame for the window.

So, that’s what I did.  I angled the cold frame on the hill of compost, dug out some of the compost and planted three squash in a hill…with frost predicted that night .   (Just to put this in perspective, I find gardening to be one of a couple very good stress relievers, and life around here has been a little stressful lately).

Anyhoo, here’s what I came up with.

I put the lettuce that’s been growing  in soil blocks at the top of the cold frame and along the sides.

Since we had a possible frost predicted, I filled a couple of milk jugs with hot water to keep things toasty.

 It did get down into the 30s last night, but this morning the plants were looking a-ok.  So, we’ll see how this turns out.

Today I transplanted my peppers and tomatoes that were growing in the soil blocks into cups.  They’re growing fine, but I don’t know how long they’re supposed to stay in the soil blocks.  I did leave a couple out just to see if they will keep up with the plants that are in the cups. 

That’s it for me.  I’m going to chill out and enjoy the rest of this Sunday evening.

(Mr. G, thanks for the plants)

Happy Gardening!!

Taking a chance on the weather

I must be a glutton for punishment.  The day after the frost last week, I went ahead and transplanted some of my seedlings.

This picture was taken one week after I planted the greens.   We’ve got mustards in the two rows on the left, rainbow swiss chard on the right, lettuce in between.  Only half the bed is planted because the top half still has the compost in it.    The lettuce plants all came from seeds started in a plastic strawberry container.  I’ve still got quite a few lettuce starts growing in soil blocks…and the window box tray…and another plastic strawberry container.  Me loves the lettuce.

I just went down memory lane and saw that last year my newly germinated lettuce and pea seeds got snowed on on March 30th.   This March 30th my seedling that were being hardened off got threatened with frost.   Strange weather coincidence, but all is well.  The weather’s been fairly warm until the last couple nights (nighttime lows close to freezing).  It gave me a chance to use my frost cover I got last year (for free) from the lady at Home Depot.

It got kind of good to me, so I transplanted the rest of the mustards, more of the swiss chard, one of the brussles sprouts and three of the resurrected swiss chards that I had stuck in the compost pile.

I’ll be so glad when the weather warms up for good.  My (ridiculously leggy) nasturtiums feel the same.  Can’t you just hear them saying, “I wanna go outside and get in the dirt.”

Happy Gardening!!

Quick little update

Talk about bad timing.  I looked out the front window this morning and saw something I haven’t seen in weeks (it seems like it, anyway)…frost-covered cars.

When I looked out the back window I saw something I’ve never seen…frost-covered plastic on my covered bed. 

All day every day since I covered the bed I’ve seen condensation dripping down the sides.   Not today, the day after I put all my plants outside.

It’s possible that I didn’t make a good seal around the bottom of the bed (or that the Garden Gremlins are screwing around with me).  Or maybe when I disturbed the compost it brought the temp down just enough to upset my little microclimate.   The thermometer that’s laying on the ground read 30, but the plants didn’t look too bad.   It’s a good thing I put the tomatoes and peppers right on top of the compost heap and covered the tray they were in.  There was condensation on the lid, so maybe they’ll be okay.

Wish me luck.

Happy Gardening!!

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