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!!

Garden Update

Five weeks is all it took to go from this



To this…


One of the ladies from the Building Urban Gardens class that we took at the Garfield Park Conservatory stopped by to get a few plants.  She pointed out the fact that what I have been calling turnips are actually mustard greens of the slick leaf variety.  My brain said they were turnips, so my eyes said, “Okay.  If that’s what you say.”  It’s a good thing I actually like mustard greens.

So, yesterday was the first harvest of 2009.


6.8 ounces.  Yay!!

The “hoop house” really made a difference.  The whole bed was planted on 3-15.  The same day I planted the bed with the cover, I planted seeds in the spot I reserve for my elephant ear.  100_0097

There’s a world of difference between the two.  (Left to right:  lettuce, spinach, raddish, beets)

The “hoop house” even outproduced some of the lettuce I started in the house in a long window type planter.  Some of the lettuce I kept in the long planter and some I transplanted into paper pots , which didn’t work out so well because they never really grew much in the paper pots.  I later transplanted some of the planter lettuce  into the yard.  They’re in the first four rows.   Most of the lettuce that germinated was the red lettuce, and they’re kind of hard to see against the dark background.  They’re growing, but slowly.


The lettuce didn’t grow well in the paper pots, but they didn’t die either.  On 4-14 I transplanted some of them into this self-watering container that was sitting outside from last year.


They just started putting on a little growth over the last week (during those warm days).

Well, I guess we have the results of one of my garden experiments.   Newly germinated cold tolerant seeds that get snowed on will continue to grow with the help of frost protection.

The results were so nice, I had to do it twice.


And it’s working great.  In this bed is the chives and garlic chives, the Egyptian walking onions, the few surviving garlic plants, and the strawberries from last year.  Once the cover went on, the strawberry leaves got larger almost over night.  I planted about six tomatoes and a globe basil in the tomatoes’ squares because I read that the basil enhances the flavor of the tomatoes.  I planted the borage, one squash, onion bulbs, I seeded a couple of squares with carrots and a couple of squares with turnips…really, turnips, not mustards.   I planted a few of the lemon cukes and a couple squares with bush beans.   A few marigolds went in and a couple of petunias. 

The third bed is planted with broccoli interplanted with lettuce; kale, which hasn’t hardly grown since it got it’s true leaves; collards, which aren’t doing much better; bell peppers; corn; potatoes.  That’s a lot going on into 32 square feet, but we’re supposed to be able to plant “intensively,” aren’t we?

I may have a raspberry or two…


(containerized raspberries al la Free Cycle)

I may have a blueberry or two…


(containerized blueberry I ordered)

This blueberry plant looks pretty good, but the buy one/get one free for just about $10 looked so bad to me that I complained about them.  They sent me two more replacements, but they weren’t much better looking.


The two on the left were the original and the two on the right were the replacements.  Had I known that these plants would have been so small I would have gotten something else.  But they’re mine now.  Hopefully they’ll start growing.

Here’s a shot of the perennial bed.  The bleeding hearts are doing especially well this year.


The seedlings.  They’re holding their own.  I’m truly tired of shuffling them in and out, and it makes even less sense now since I’ve planted every square foot in the raised beds.  Very soon, I’m going to pass a few on to my mother-in-law, my cousin and a couple neighbors.  I still feel compelled to make sure they’re hardened off before I pass them on.  I’d hate for them to die after all the work I put into them.

And last, but not least…



Happy Mother's Day

Mother Nature isn’t so bad after all.

I checked the hoop house this afternoon. It’s been elevated from hoop shack back to hoop house. The temperature inside was …(picture me doing the happy dance)…54 degrees.


I feel better now. Nothing was kneeled over on the ground, so I guess we made it through the hump. Here’s a quick picture.


I don’t know why the peas on the left have spotty germination, except maybe the squirrels or the birds got to them. But since I never had any luck with peas before I’m a happy camper.

Experiment Update:

  • Row covers/hoop houses will aid in seed germination before your last frost date, especially in a raised bed
  • Row covers/hoop houses will protect young plants from freezing weather
  • Row covers/hoop houses will raise the inside temperature as much as 20 degrees
  • Newly sproutedpea plants, turnip plants and onion plants can survive at least one snowfall

Happy Gardening!!!!

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