grdnguru's blog

How did I get so busy?
Posted on May 6, 2021 1:54 PM

It's been pretty hectic in the garden recently. I have been planting my transplants into the garden directly and seeding in some beds while I tend to my plants in the greenhouse. So much to do and so worth it in the long run. Where to start is the real question I am perplexed by right now.
I planted sets of potatoes in the garden and in two grow bags about a month ago. I was a little apprehensive as I was trying a new technique and the potatoes I bought from a local source seemed dubious. Last year was my first foray into potatoes and they turned out okay. They were a tad bit small for my liking but it was, my first attempt.
The local potatoes had very few tubers but I planted them anyways. The red potatoes had numerous tubers which made me feel okay. Well after a month, here is how they are looking in the garden.
Thumb of 2021-05-06/grdnguru/1e3330
The ones on the left are Yukon Golds and the taters of the right are Red Potatoes.
The grow bag potatoes which are more of the Yukon Gold potatoes have taken off rapidly. I would venture a guess that their growth has been faster than the ones in the ground at this time. Here is a side by side shot of their present state after I mounded them up.
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Hoping for larger sized potatoes this year as I feel I just might know what I am actually doing.
I also have been seeding in successive green bean plantings. My first planting was almost totally destroyed by what I presume were the neighborhood squirrels.
I replanted the first batch and then planted another set of 9. I always plant them in sets of 9 as that is what fits in a square foot. Green Beans are prolific so I space the plantings about a week apart. We'll share any excess with the in-laws. And, if there are even more, we'll find someone in the neighborhood who I am sure would take them.
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I do have tomatoes and cucumber plants that I'm holding in the greenhouse. How much longer is anyone's guess. They can't stay much longer as that will affect the plants output. Here in my region, Mother's Day is the prescribed date to plant the summer season plants. But, the weather isn't exactly following the script. We are looking at highs into the next week or so of only the mid 60's. That means the lows will be at or near 40. And, another factor is most of the days will be partly to mostly cloudy. I will transplant them under cover by mid-week next week if the weather isn't to straighten out. Here is a picture I took about 4 days ago of 5 of my tomato plants. They are healthy at this point so there is hope.
Thumb of 2021-05-06/grdnguru/0620e0
The onions are doing great in the garden but the ones I planted in the container in the greenhouse are having some issues. Not sure what exactly but I believe it's just too hot in there. Even if I open the vent fully and leave the door open with a screen, it's getting into the 80's in there. Next year, I will plant my complete set of onions in the garden under cover.
I am growing plants this year that I am not that entirely familiar with. The change in weather (for whatever reason) is not helping with growing the plants either. Most of the gardeners I know are noticing the weather more than usual. It definitely is a bigger factor than normal.
Well, this is all for now. I will loop back and will try to be more consistent. Until next time, Happy Gardening Everyone.

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Natures curve ball!!
Posted on Apr 21, 2021 12:49 PM

As I write this, we (Mid-Atlantic) are expecting storms with high winds and much colder temps. The projected low is supposed to be around 36-38. Right now, we are having wind gusts of about 35 mpg. So, I have been busy trying to protect the crops that have just sprung to life above ground.
Early this morning, I went out and got to the task of protecting my Pea seedlings as well as I could. I know they are hardy but given they just broke ground about 2 days ago, I felt I had to do what I could. The complicating fact for me was that they were at the feet of my new trellis. That meant I needed to somehow cover both sides of the poles in order to afford complete protection. I looked around and found two long sheets of some old 6 ml greenhouse plastic. Luckily, they were long enough to wrap each side of each set of poles. Having this was the first hurdle crossed. I then had to figure out how to close the tops of the plastic to make a tee pee type covering. That's when it struck me that I had several sets of clothespins that hopefully will stand the rigors of our incoming storms and cold.
I envisioned wrapping the base of each set of poles with the cover and closing up the tops with the pins. I probably overused the clothes pins but I wanted to try as best I could to overbuild it. Here is how the Pea trellis ended up looking. Tonight will be the test.
Thumb of 2021-04-21/grdnguru/a74f6b
To the right of the trellis is where I planted 5 Yukon gold and 6 Red potato starts. The Yukon's are nearer the garage and the Reds are in front of them. When I checked them this morning, there were tiny plants breaking through the ground. I took some of my homemade soil mix and covered the seedlings with a thin layer of it to offset the very cold temps expected tonight. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as I always heard.
Speaking of soil mixes, the mixing process has always seemed strenuous and time consuming to me. Even though I am retired and have a lot more time now, I still don't like wasting it. My wife and I went to Aldi's to grocery shop this past Sunday. And, as we turned into one of the aisles, I saw a box for a rotating 15 gallon composter. Intrigued to find this at an Aldi's, I priced it and thought do I really need another composter given I have 4 currently. We went on shopping and I gave that unit more thought. Then, it struck me, I could use this to mix the various ingredients I use to blend my soil ingredients. So, you guessed it, I bought it! And here is a picture of the completed unit.
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The soil in front of the unit was mixed in about 5 minutes and it resulted in a very well distributed medium. And, best of all, it was much easier than using the 5 gallon buckets I have been using. Put the various components in, close the door and spin. Easy - which I like.
I woke up this morning bemoaning the weird and unpredictable nature of the weather this month. If I remember right, last April was very similar but this year the temps just don't seem as warm as last years. And, the winds this year have been more intense. That has delayed my transplanting of my seedlings which are stuck under grow lights. That, I thought, couldn't continue much longer.
After addressing the Pea situation, I peeked into my shed but found nothing that could help. I then went to my garage and there it was, my answer, staring me in the face. I had an old cover that I used for seedling hardening off. I decided to deploy this over the area where I had my cloches. This would allow me to use the cloches for my broccoli and cabbage plants. The cover will allow me to transplant my tomatoes and cucumber seedlings. This was a true win-win for the garden. Just wished I had thought of it sooner. Here is how they look now.
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This year, I am trying to grow potatoes in grow bags. Heard a lot about them and thanks to my wife who bought these, I dove right in. So, about a week ago, I followed the instructions that came with the bags and added the starts to the bags with soil. I watered them and left them in sun in my greenhouse. Lo and behold, I checked on their progress not expecting much, but all the taters had sprouted. They are hard to see at this point but i did manage to catch one set in this picture.
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There are three in the center of this pic. I did grow potatoes last year but did not water them and mound them as much as I should. I'm looking for incremental improvement year over year with improved knowledge. Next year I have plans to grow a 20 foot row which would be 20 starts.
There is plenty to do and hopefully, the weather will turn seasonal and predictable. I have a bunch of projects to get completed but will first attend to getting the seedlings out in the garden. I'll harden them off in my greenhouse for about a week and then transplant them under the protective covers eventually. With a little luck, all will work out. If not, I have sources for replacement seedlings.
So, until next time, Happy Gardening everyone!

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What month is this?
Posted on Apr 8, 2021 2:26 PM

The weather has turned decidely summerish. We have been on a streak of 5 days of absolutely beautiful, sunshine filled days. Today is no exception either. God has been good to us.
When I went out this morning, I had every intention of working in the garden for most of the day. For the last two days, I had put in quite a few hours which included building a pea trellis and attending to the various seeded beds. On Tuesday, I decided to tackle the Pea trellis. I had two options which consisted of using the same unit I used last year or putting a new one together. I decided to construct a new one but had nothing in particular in mind as far as materials.
I read a book called Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell. The book had a section on bamboo trellises which had many different applications. After reading the section, I decided to build one similar to one in the book. So, with the bamboo I have and a packet of long zip ties, I began to put the trellis together. After about two hours, it was finished. Here is a picture of the new created trellis. I seeded in the peas on Wednesday morning. I will have 18 vines if all come to fruition.
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I was actually very pleased with this. I am hoping it will stand the test of time and the weight of the vines. In the book, it said that the pea vines are the lightest of vines and most trellises do fine.
I also have seeded in about 27 spanish onions, 9 beets and 9 beans into the garden. I have them protected as the weather is supposed to turn much colder around the 20th. April is a really tough month in the mid-atlantic so one has to take the necessary measures to endure its' travails. Here are a few clips of the various plantings I have made along with the protections.
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Onions.
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Beets.
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Beans.
I also planted 18 onions in one of the large planters I have in the greenhouse. I may have way too many of these but better to have too many than too few.
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If you look at this image, you can see that there are several that have blooms above the dirt. I also checked the ones in the garden and they too have blooms. This gives me hope that the soil remediation that I did last fall and this Spring will pay off. I will continue with the soil additives throughout the season to augment those to keep the soil on the mend.
Continuing with the theme of plantings, I also seeded in potatoes in two grow bags and in the garden. I filled the 2 bags with 3 inches of soil, firmed the 2 potato starts into the soil and covered with 2 more inches of soil. I will periodically mound the soil around the tendrils as they grow until the bag is filled. Never used one of these so this is a new venture for me. Here is how one looks presently.
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And the garden potatoes have been spaced at 1 foot apart as seen below. These are Yukon Golds'. I have to plant some red potatoes shortly. I am excited as I planted taters late last year and they were undersized but delicious none the less.
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My shadow is covering one of the plants. So, I have 9 total plantings plus the 6 reds I will plant tomorrow, that will give us 15 total plants. Since there are only two of us, if all goes well, we should have plenty.
Well, that's what I have been up to lately. It's been busy but I feel pretty good about where I'm at right now. There is a lot more to do but I will keeping an eye on the forecasts as the 20th-22nd approaches. No sense pushing against mother nature.
I had hoped to get more work done today as I said at the beginning of this post. But, I woke up and decided to just clean up both the backyard and pickup around the garden. That went pretty quickly so I cut the grass and decided to run some errands and just take in the sunny day.
I'll be back at it tomorrow as there are rain storms approaching and should hit Sunday. Until next time, Happy Gardening Everyone!

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Garden news update #1
Posted on Mar 22, 2021 9:03 AM

The weather here in Maryland has turned for the better. We have had another string of beautiful days which has once again propelled me into the garden to get things rolling. And rolling they are! There is so much to tell that I have decided to break it up into a series of posts. That's the only way I can be sure to get all the news that is news addressed.
So, as they say, everything starts with the soil. I decided that the first thing I should do was pull out the rototiller and get the remaining winter rye cut down to the surface. After hitting all the beds, I put my hand into the garden soil and felt that it was very cold and definitely wet. We have not had the best weather and the sun has been almost non-existent for several stretches. Given the cold and wetness of the ground, I decided to cover the areas where my tomatoes and cucumbers are going to be planted with cloches in hopes of warming up and drying out the soil. I had no idea I had so many of these. As you can see from the pic below, I had enough to cover every plot with them.
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The ones that are yellowed are probably at least 8 years old. The other ones are more recent but all of them will do the job this spring. The three big ones were Christmas presents this past year and supposedly do not yellow. We shall put that to the test this year.
Subsequently, I decided to cover the rest of the beds with 6 mil greenhouse plastic that I used many years ago. I am glad that I saved them and they fit all the exposed beds that I needed them to cover. I am hoping these covers will allow the sun to both warm and dry the soil while also helping to breakdown the rye laying on top.
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On a similar note, I also decided to move my various bags of soil amendments that I have gathered over the winter to begin warming them up. I had a patch of rye in another plot that I needed to kill so I decided to pile the bags on top of that area as seen below. I have amassed a varied collection of cow manure bags, compost/manure mix bags along with peat moss, vermiculite and a bag of soil amendment. This will be added to my leaf compost I have been letting breakdown over the winter. Once mixed, I will distribute it on all the beds. I'm sure I will be doing that very shortly. Here's a shot of my amendments pile. I will cover it up each night with a tarp in hopes of holding in the heat.
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There is talk of us having a very cold snap towards the end of March into early April thanks to another cold dip from Canada. Anything I decide to plant this week will have to be covered or I risk loss. Seems old man winter is still around and kicking. I know, as I write this, that Denver and surrounding areas are going to get cold and may get a little bit of snow. We're not expecting that so that is good.
As I stated earlier, there is so much going on that I had to break this up. Afterall, I don't want to miss much time when the sun is bright! Lastly, I wanted to leave you a small sign that Spring is indeed coming on. Enjoy! Until next time, Happy Gardening Everyone!
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Sown and growing!!
Posted on Mar 16, 2021 1:42 PM

The weather here has turned backed to normal. It is seasonably cool here now. We got a bit complacent last week as we hit the 70's for three days straight. But, that hasn't stopped the clock either. There is much to do as I say and time keeps on ticking. I hear it loud and clear.
I line with that, I have been seeding in the various Spring vegetables that I need this year. I especially like to grow my own plants to allow me to have varieties of plants that I want. Choice is a wonderful thing in most cases. One other point is that seedlings from the various stores are amazingly expensive as I have seen tomato plants at about $4.00 each. You could spend a small fortune if you have a garden of any size and not get best tasting veggies.
So, here is one set of what I call my "mix". It is made up of Parsley, Cabbage, Broccoli and Onions. They are about 2 weeks old as of today.
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Then I have another planter of spinach which is also about 2 weeks old too.
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I have also planted Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Peppers in another planter. Since this was done about 3 days ago, there aren't any seedling yet. I have them on a heat mat and covered with a plastic dome. I did see one cucumber seedling poking through so it should be anytime now for the rest of the plants to pop up - or not. I plant more seeds than I need plants because there are failures in every seeding.
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Right now, this is about all I can do until the soils outside warm up a bit. And, if the forecasts are to be believed, it may get even colder towards the end of this month. The seasons are changing as we go through what I have heard of as a solar minimum sun cycle. Whatever is happening, our weather has been different in many ways so one has to adapt to them.
I did get out yesterday to stake out my onion beds which should be planted very shortly. I have structures to cover the area so that probably will be what I do. Here is how I staked the area. I will plant the onion sets I have at 9 per square foot. If that ends up in overcrowding, I will pull some of the onions to allow more space. But, if I get 9 per square foot, that will result in 288 onions. This is my first year with onions and I bought a pound of yellow onions. I may not have 288 but I will plant as many as I can/need. I am also considering planting one block and see where that takes me. I have some decisions to make so that will be a moment of planting situation.
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The planting season is getting underway pretty quickly. There is a lot to do and I have been getting steadily busier as each week passes. There may be a few time lapses in my writing but rest assured, I will write. So, until the next opportunity, Happy Gardening Everyone!

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