February 28, 2009: A Day Closer to Spring

The last day of February....spring can't be too far away! I'm busy packing up for my trip north, a month earlier than usual, so I can get my seed growing area furnished with lights, trays and heating pads and begin sprouting all kinds of vegetables in earnest. I have eight more varieties of tomatoes, not counting the Tumbling Toms that are already growing, and four more varieties of peppers besides the green bells that I've already started. There's cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce....just all kinds of things that can get a head start under those lights!

Besides getting the seedlings started, there will be so much to do once I get home.

1. The first thing that has to be done is a trip to the nursery for a yard of good "leaf & twig" compost, since I have several beds to fill up and the rest to be topped off.

2. Four of my 4' x 4' raised boxes need to be joined together with 2x12s to make one 22' long bed, and the resulting 2' x 4' areas filled with compost.

3. I'll have to dig out some sod along the south fence line and prepare a makeshift planting bed for the sugar snap peas. These weren't in my original plan for this year's garden, so rather than a wood enclosed box, I'll simply provide a 12' x 1' raised bed of compost rich soil. I'll do the same along the east side of the "dog kennel garden" for the tall peas and some early lettuce. The peas will have to be planted right away.

4. New compost will be added to all the beds and incorporated into the existing soil.

5. Four or five raspberry canes, 2 new blueberry bushes and 50 strawberry plants must be purchased and planted.

6. I have to either find room to plant at least a dozen of the pepper plants that I didn't plan on originally, or find enough containers to grow them in. I kind of got carried away with the Tumbling Toms, too. I had only planned on one of those, in a hanging bucket, and now I have four that I won't be able to part with. Of course, they may all be too large to fit in the picnic cooler for the trip home next week....in which case they will be given to friends here in AZ and new ones will be started when I get home.

7. I have some "garden art" that I want to install....some decorative trellises and my home made hand painted birdhouses.

8. I have to remove three or four large lilac bushes and a volunteer mulberry tree to make room for a large compost bin. Getting rid of the shade might allow me to add a melon patch next year, after we build a new shed next to that area.

9. I'm taking six 6' T-posts home to pound into the tomato bed so I can try the Florida Weave method of trellising this year. I'll put three on each side of the 4' x 8' bed, and wire some 8' 2x2s to them to extend their height for the indeterminate tomatoes.

10. A new sprinkling system has to be planned, as I don't want to use the existing impulse sprinklers in the garden. I have a bunch of drip tubing left over from the drip system in my AZ gardens, so I'll spend some time playing around with that and planning out a permanent installation.

I think I might need another month of spring, just to get the garden ready this year!

Tumbling Tom Tomatoes, planted 2/4. The tallest is 6" now (not including the pot).

The California Wonder 300 TMR (Bell) peppers planted 2/7 have their first true leaves.

The plants now live in an old picnic cooler, with foil taped inside the lid to reflect the light.

With the lid closed enough to still allow the light cord to be plugged in, it makes a toasty growing chamber that maintains a constant 85F temperature. This is how they will be transported north next week, carried through the hotel and placed in the hotel bathroom, with the light plugged in overnight.

My daughter called yesterday to say she'd picked up my mail (in WA), and I had a box from John in PA (John's Journal). That would be the soil block maker that he made for me...I'm very anxious to try it! I also had my order from Ohio Heirloom Seeds (that was fast!) and a free packet of seeds from Patti Moreno the Garden Girl. I think Amy said it was Bok Choy, which I have never planted before.


  1. Annie, you sure do have a lot to do. I am still planning, building, and haven't ordered the first seed yet. I am trying to get a chicken coop built as well so I can get some chicks.

  2. Cripe!! Granny, you made me tired just reading your blog. You are going to be a busy girl.


  3. You sure have a lot of plans waiting for you when you get to WA and your tomatoes look wonderful. I keep thinking of the Florida weave method. I have used cages for a long time. Some of them are starting to rust out. If I don't have enough cages next year I may try it out. I have plenty of T posts.

  4. My oh my! Sounds like you've got your work cut out for you!!! I'm truly impressed at how much you plan to accomplish! Are you sure you aren't over-doing it a bit?? lol Because for me that would be too much to take care of.

  5. Granny, your seedlings are looking very good! I think that all of my seedlings are about 1 week behind yours, at least by growth/size. I understand about getting carried away with the number of transplants. Heh. It's pretty addictive, ain't it?


  6. Reading your to-do list made me tired-er than I already was, but I'm going to try to muster up some energy to post. I've been pretty neglectful lately.

    Your tomatoes and peppers are looking good. I started planting a few seeds. I got some of the habenaro seeds from a store pepper to germinate, but they haven't even grown the first set of real leaves and it's been over a week. I'll try keeping them warmer and see if that helps.

  7. You are going to be busy when you get back, sounds like it will be enjoyable work though. I can't wait to see your birdhouses in action!

    Let me know if you need any melon seed for next season. I am growing two french varieties this year and will have lots of left over seed. That is if my pinetree order ever arrives.

    Your peppers look great. They sometimes take ages to put out growth, yours seem to be off to the races.

  8. Wow! You are going to be one busy, busy gal!

  9. Dapper, John, Daphne & Amy...LOL! Yes, a lot of work ahead, so I hope the weather cooperates. I plan to enlist the help of an 11-year-old grandson who needs to earn $100 for a class trip to Seattle. He can earn and learn at the same time. Dapper, I wish we could have chickens, but our next door neighbor tried that once and all they ended up with was road kill. Actually, we aren't supposed to have them in the city anyway.

  10. EG, Yes, it sure is addictive. I had to pack my seeds already, just to keep from planting more!

    Cheryl, I gave up on the seeds from my store peppers, and dumped the contents of the pots back into the bag of seed starting mix. When it was time to pot up my second batch of peppers (the ones I pre-sprouted) guess what I found in the bag of soil....two tiny pepper sprouts! I needed to be more patient, but it had been a month. Of course, I figured the seeds weren't viable and I threw them away :-(

    Dan, if I get a spot cleared for melons, I'd love to try them! Thanks for the offer.

    Jenn, I hope so...I've been so bored this winter with not enough to do.

  11. Wow! I love the mode of transportation for the plants- they will be quite happy in there, I bet! They look fantastic! Very healthy. Have a good trip. By the way Annie is precious- my little Handsome Ransom agrees (He's my Yorkie baby, sitting here on my lap;)

  12. Tessa, the cooler has proved to be an excellent growing chamber! I think I will use it (and another one or two) for the babies, even when I get home and set up a larger light system, just because the temperature stays so warm and even in there and it eliminates the need for heating pads.

    Annie thanks you. She thinks she's quite precious, as is her brother Otto.

  13. Wow your list sure sounds like your going to be busy. Nice blog, I'll be back.

  14. Welcome to my blog, Randy! I'm glad you enjoy it.