April 15, 2009: Has Spring Finally Sprung?

Yesterday it was cold, windy and occasionally rainy, so I stayed inside and built my first SWC from two 5-gallon buckets. It was pretty easy, but I only had two sizes of hole saw...too large and too small. Since my jigsaw is 1200 miles away in AZ, I ended up with a rather raggedy hole for the water wicking chamber, because I had to use a hack saw and tin snips! Oh wells, it doesn't show so not to worry. The fill tube hole was a bit large, but several big rubber bands made a good seal, so that worked out well also. I still have to cut the lid (if I decide to use one), and buy some more potting mix before I can plant anything in it. But that's one down and four to go!

I potted up the two largest peppers (AZ seedlings) into large pots, which will be their permanent homes. Warm weather is predicted for the weekend, so maybe I can get these AZ plants hardened off and put outside for good. I'm completely out of space in the plant window.

The pickup bed seems to be working well for hardening off all the other plants. They aren't gaining much in height, but seem to be getting stockier. They have survived cold, wind and a hard rain, and today hot sun, so they should be very well hardened! In fact, today I pulled the pickup out where the plants would get full sun all day...a bit too much, I'm afraid (I baked a container of marigolds). Tomorrow I'll go back to parking where they get three hours of sun and the rest of the day in filtered shade.

Today was lovely, so I accomplished a bit more.

I potted 2 Black Cherry tomatoes (3/12) into 16-oz. cups. These were replacements for two earlier non-germinating ones.

One of the three Purple Beauty peppers (4/1) germinated today.

Glorious Gleam Nasturtiums (3/28) had very poor germination. Only three of 18 planted in soil blocks and placed on a heat mat in the greenhouse grew; they have been hardening off all week, so I planted them with the blueberries today.

The weatherman says our temps are going to reach near 80F by this weekend, so I planted four squares (45 seeds) each of Royal Burgundy and Contender bush beans in east bed #3. Parsnips in that bed are beginning to germinate. The soil was very warm to the touch, even several inches under the surface.

There is a plant growing where I planted borage (4/3). I'm not familiar with this plant, but considering where it has sprouted, I think that is what it is.

Two of the buttercrunch lettuces in the dog kennel succumbed to cutworm, so I replanted (seeds) today. Cutworm also annihilated about 3-4 pea vines. I put cutworm collars around all the brassicas.

Our irrigation water is on again, so I gave the entire garden a good sprinkling. It's surprising how dry it was, after all the rain we got this week. However, the raised beds do dry quickly, and we've had a lot of wind.

Tonight I planted 3 blue morning glory and 3 sunflowers in soil blocks and placed them in a clear plastic domed box to germinate.

Last of all, I started a new compost pile with chopped leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells and chopped vegetable waste from the kitchen. I wet everything down well, then tossed on a couple of shovels of composted cow manure. I have decided nothing will go unchopped in this pile, since last year's compost was a real failure.

I'm tired now...good night to all.


  1. Wow, you HAVE been busy. No wonder you're tired. I sure would be. Glad you got your cool 5 gallon SWC built. Made me think about the bad holes for the fill pipe in the aeration bench in my SWCs. I hadn't thought much dirt would get down into the reservoir. Now you have me thinking. May need to bring some rubber bands home from work.

    Have I told you lately how much I love the pickup idea!? Glad it's working for you.

    Man, I don't think we'll hit 80 until mid-late July here. Gotta love East Washington, hehe.

    Sorry to hear about your greens and peas getting munched. With those temps will you have enough time to harvest before they bolt or wilt? I sure hope I don't have cutworms here. I don't have collars for them.

    Good luck with this year's compost! You can do it, I know you can!

  2. I have very bad luck with nasturtium seeds of any variety I've tried so far. Wish I knew what you gotta do to get the buggers to sprout!

    I planted some borage for the tomatoes, too. Mine's already in the garden. I'll take a pic tomorrow so you can tell if that's what's growing.

    I don't know if it's just dumb luck or I did something right, but I bought a cheap laundry hamper at wal-mart awhile ago, the kind that has holes all in the sides so the laundry doesn't get too stinky. I used paper from our shredder and some compost from a bag I bought to start it cooking. The rest is more paper, kitchen scraps, coffee grinds, and stuff like that. I also dumped in a shovelful of the compost I bought for my garden bed. Once I got it all filled up, it started cooking good. Every time I turn it, it's hot on the inside, so I must be doing something right. Bought another hamper tonight, since the other one is full. I'll take it outside and start it cooking tomorrow.

    Anyway, I'm finally going to bed too, so goodnight...If I forget the pic, remind me, okay? I suffer increasingly from CRS...LOL!

  3. The SWC bucket turned out pretty spiffy looking! I know you were operating with less than perfect tool selection - but one could never know it from the results.

  4. I keep thinking about those self watering containers, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be lazy and just use my pails as is - well with holes in the bottom.

    I really need to chop my leaves before they go into the pile too. Most other things break down well for me.

  5. Good job on the swc! I'd like to get my hands on some buckets that tall, because you end up with a pretty large water reservoir. Wow, those plants are getting really tall. I'll be starting a new compost pile pretty soon, myself. Good luck!

  6. Rubber band as a seal? Genius!

    I had germination problems with my Black Cherry seeds too. I just bought them this year, it's not like they've been sitting around for ages. I tripled up on seeds in each of 3 cells in the seedling tray and finally have a few viable candidates.

  7. Sinfonian, I think I wrapped about six rubber bands around the fill tube, and that made a perfect seal. Luckily, Mr. H saves all the rubber bands that come around our newspapers. I think I'll move the plants from the pickup to the patio table today. It looks as though our night temps will stay in the forties now, and everything is pretty acclimated to the temps. Two more weeks and they will go into the garden. I've never had a problem with peas here (other than critters). I always plant them where they get a bit of shade during the hot part of the day. I've kept greens going all summer by providing them with shade. BTW, yes you do have some cutworm collars. A toilet paper tube, sliced down one side and then cut into three equal cylinders. Heck, just a scrap of paper wrapped around the stem works...good firm paper (those shiny ads from the junk mail)!

  8. SB, I broke my nasturtium soil blocks apart to see what had happened to the seeds. Three of the fifteen had rotted, one had burst open, one had a sprout and all the others just looked the same as when I planted them. I put them all on a damp paper towel in a baggie. I'd appreciate a picture of the borage! I wish all seed companies would put a picture of the seedling on the packet.

  9. kitsapfg, thanks...bright green pickle buckets will look so nice lined up along the fence ;-)

  10. Daphne, I originally was going to just make (nearly) bottomless buckets, but EG has a way of shaming me into things like SWCs! I might be too lazy, and next year have ten or twelve bottomless and no SWCs.

  11. EG, see my comment to Daphne (above) ;-)

  12. Gumshoegardener, Black Cherry and Marglobe were my two underperformers. All the others gave me 100%! If I ever grow Purple Beauty Peppers again, I'll plant the entire packet...in December!

  13. I'm going the lazy way. I've got a bunch of the large black plastic pots from last year I'm going to make use of.

    p.s. I posted a pic of the borage too.

  14. Nice SWC. How are your black cherry tomatoes doing? Mine are whimpy little things, not sure if this is the norm.

    Borage has fairly large oval leaves that will develop small hairy spikes. Very nice plants, they grow fast and reseed every year.

    We are have some nice warm temps for the next few days. The problem is we have not had rain is a while. They keep forecasting rain and then they just keep bumping it down the forecast.

  15. Cheryl, thanks for the pic!

    Dan, my Black Cherry toms are my wimpiest, and I only got 50% germination from them compared to 99-100% for most of the others. I have them put to bed for the night, but I'll try to get a comparison photo for you tomorrow. Nothing is as wimpy as those Purple Beauty peppers, though!

  16. As always, I'm totally impressed! I don't think I could keep up with you, you seem to get so much accomplished in one day!!!

    I'm hoping to get my raised bed kits done Saturday, my parents are coming over to help me with them. Hubs hurt his shoulder pretty bad and is pretty much out of commission and not much help at all. :( I'm planning to hire our lawn guys to fill the beds once I order soil since he's not going to be able to help with that.

  17. MommyAmy, how exciting! You are going to have so much fun once those beds are built. And you won't be guilty of planting everything too early like (ahem) some of us do!

  18. Those purple peppers will grow, they just seem to take their time. I grew 'king of the north' peppers last year and they were the same, it seemed they just sat there. Once I planted them out they caught up to the others as soon as the heat set in.

    I also won't say your compost last fall was a failure. Compost really doesn't do much over the winter except turn to mush.