Sunday, March 8, 2009

First early planting

In typical Oklahoma style, things have changed weather-wise. It's now......

....80F (26C). The daffodils are happier...............

....and are in full bloom.
The Happy Gardener must take full advantage of these warmer climes so I decide to make a start on Plot 3. The Cyprus mulch has done a good job of keeping the weeds clear and the soil temperature up over the cold winter nights.

When I rake the top surface clear, wonderful dark moist earth is revealed.

And, when I dig it over I see plenty of worm activity too. Next I make 2 trenches around 3 to 4 inches deep along the length of the plot........

...into which I place some seed potatoes. This first batch to go in are Russets. I'll be planting a second crop later which will probably be Reds. I try to purchase small seeds and plant them whole. If you can only get large seeds you can cut them into pieces leaving a couple of "eyes" in each piece. However, the large cut ends are prone to disease and it's recommended that you toss the cut pieces in a paper bag with a little agricultural sulphur and leave them for a couple of days to "heal" before planting.
Last season I tried 2 methods of growing potatoes. Traditional hilling with earth and deep mulching with straw. The deep straw method seemed to attracted a lot more woodlice which chomped merrily through the main plant stems. I lost all the plants on which I used this method so this year I'm sticking to the traditional way. The seeds are then covered with earth and the whole plot given a liberal sprinkling of Iron Sulphate, an organic compound which kills any woodlice and is actually good for the soil too. It's a Win-Win situation.
Later, when the plants reach around 12 inches I'll start to "hill" the earth around them, leaving just a few inches above ground.
The area around the fenced-in plots is looking ragged and overgrown so I break out the strimmer or "weed eater"and clear the whole area around them.

I've taken it right down in an attempt to keep some insects away. Many bugs can be put off visiting if they have to cross an open area to get their meal. It also gives the birds more of a chance to pick up a tasty snack too. Win-Win again, hopefully.
The indoor plants are coming along nicely. The Kohlrabi seedlings are around 3 to 4 inches tall.

They all look pretty healthy too and will be getting another feed of half strength Fish Emulsion this afternoon. Actually, I read that it's not recommended to start these veggies in pots and replant them but this is what I did last year and it worked. They prefer a cooler climate so I grew them in the fall last year. This time I wanted to get them in the ground early before the temps really take off. Starting them indoors hopefully will give them a good chance of survival should I get caught out with a large temperature change either way once they are outside.
The Catnip is growing but it's slow work. I seem to remember that they took ages last year too. I will also be nipping the top growth off once they mature a little. This will encourage bushy growth and more leaves. That means more "nip for your buck"

Here are the 2 biggest plants but even these are only around an inch tall. Both these and the Kohlrabi have come from seeds left over from last year so anything I get will be a bonus. I still haven't received my new order from heirloom seeds but their website says they aren't taking any more orders until the summer so it seems they have been inundated and are probably run off there feet.