March 25, 2010: Nasty, Cold & Windy

What happened to our beautiful spring weather? It was supposed to get to 61F, which is quite a bit colder than the past week has been, but so far it has only reached 54F with a cold, cold wind. I was going to try to get some broccoli planted in the garden today, but if this wind keeps up, I'll not even try. There's no way I could keep milk jugs over the seeds, they'd just blow away.

Speaking of "in the garden", not too much is happening yet. I did give all the raised beds a good layer of compost, and added the 3'x4' lettuce bed (that gives me two of that size), and got it filled. The three rows of radishes that were planted on 3/12 began showing some green yesterday. Nothing yet from the potatoes, spinach, peas or lettuce, which are the only other seeds that have been planted directly in the garden. The onion plants and the pot of cilantro are showing a bit of growth, though the cilantro is suffering a bit from the cold nights. My rosemary, the one that traveled to Arizona for the winter and back, has been removed from its pot and planted into its permanent spot in the garden.

The raised beds are all topped with compost and ready to plant.

The raspberries are growing like crazy, and I have the strawberry bed completely weeded and cleaned up now. It was a job digging out all of the quack grass that had invaded the garden. It comes under the fence from the neighbor's vacant lot, and I can usually keep it away from my side of the fence if I keep right on top of it and get it out as soon as I see it creeping in. However, I had melon vines covering the ground all last summer, and the grass got a real good root system going before I discovered it was there. Of course, it grows from rhizomes, so every time I pull some out, it just breaks and will form more roots and more plants. I'm afraid the only way I'll be able to completely eradicate it will be to use the dreaded "R" word. Roundup does have its uses at times.

This is from the four little raspberry canes planted last spring. We had to pull the posts and brace them on the outsides of the bed, as they kept leaning in the soft garden soil. Now I need to find my paintbrush!

You see strawberry plants. I see strawberry shortcake ;-)

Many of my plants have germinated in the mini-greenhouse. In fact, I think I need a second mini to hold all that I want to start, as I've also had to drag out an old picnic cooler, and a 16" fluorescent light for it, as well as a 24" fixture for the broccoli and cabbage seedlings, besides the 4 double fixtures inside the mini.

The mini-greenhouse is overflowing, the shelf is beginning to bow. Yes, the lights are crooked for a reason...the cosmos are getting too darned tall! I've been turning the lights on at night, and off in the daytime. It's been in the 30s here at night, but the lights keep it around 75-80F. When they go off in the morning, the temperature drops down around 60F. There is a double plastic flap that drops down over the front to keep everything inside warm and toasty.

The overflow (cold resistant plants) stay outside of the mini, on the counter. Tomato seeds stay warm in the picnic cooler, with the light on 24 hours a day until they germinate.

So far, the seedlings growing are:

Persey 1/3
Sungold 1/3
Gartenperle 1/3
Dwarf Champion 3/4
Golden Dwarf Champion 3/4
Market Miracle 1/3
Angora Super Sweet 1/3
Black Cherry 1/3
Kellogg's Breakfast 6/6 (These were seeds I saved from a beautiful, big tomato from last year's garden. I wasn't convinced I could really be a seed saver, so I planted six seeds to see if any were viable. I guess they were, as all six germinated!)

None of the other 14 tomato varieties has yet germinated. All but the two Dwarf varieties were planted 5 days ago. The Dwarfs were planted nine days ago.

Golden Calwonder 7/8
Hungarian Wax 8/8
Quadrato Rosso D'Asti 13/16
Early Jalapeno 7/8

Paris Island Romaine 3/5
Manoa 3/5
Little Gem 3/5
Buttercrunch 4/5
Red Sails 5/5
Red Romaine 5/5
Summercrisp 5/5
Anuenue 1/5
Jericho 1/5

Fernleaf 3/6

Italian Large Leaf 5/5

Red Egg 2/3

Calabrese 4/4
De Cicco 2/4
Waltham 4/4

Golden Acre 4/4
Gonzales 4/4
Red Acre 4/4

Alyssum, Carpet of Snow 18/18
Cosmos, Single Sensation Mixed 18/18 (need to be repotted!)
Hollyhock, Pink 1/6
Hollyhock, White 3/6
Marigold, My Saved Yellow 9/18 (I'm so happy this 2008 seed was still viable!)
Marigold, Petite Yellow 16/18
Shasta Daisy, Alaska 8/8
Sweet William, Tall Double Mixed 17/18
Tennessee Coneflower 1/18
Impatiens, Mixed Colors 5/100 (these came from a box of pelleted seeds in seed starting medium. Very disappointing if I only end up with five plants for $2.99, these were to be my main flowers around the patio and in containers)


  1. Daphne, Blogger doesn't like you today, they have lost your comment! However, I have a copy....

    You have a lot going. I don't start my warm season plants until the beginning of April and tomatoes even later.

    I lean my lights sometimes too, but the main way I keep them all at the lights is to put blocks and things under them. I keep thinking I should have kept my kids old block set and not given it away.

    I do use blocks, I've used all I have. You can see some of them under the plants that are behind the cooler. Many others are in the mini, just not visible. I need more blocks :-(

  2. I'll try to send some of this California warm weather your way! :)

  3. The beds all look so neat and tidy. The seedlings are coming along nicely as well. It won't be long until the planting begins in earnest. I can't wait!

  4. I'm SO jealous of your raspberries! I got one little plant on sale last fall, and if they have more at Lowe's this weekend I know I'll succumb. I'm going to stock up on strawberries, too. YUM

    It's much cooler than normal here as well, though if that continues through the summer like last season it'll be great for my potatoes! They always get killed off too soon in the heat, and I had my best crop ever last year. Even my bell peppers yielded more heavily last summer when it wasn't so stiflingly hot as usual.

  5. Dirty Girl Gardening, please do! It's been absolutely perfect weather here until today. We need rain, not drying winds. The beds are so dry, and it's so $$$ to use city water! The irrigation district gives the same answer every day....the water will be her today or tomorrow. They've been saying that all week :-(

    The Mom, I'm always in such a hurry for things to grow and look NICE. Meaning full and overflowing veggie beds, tons of the color green. I have enough seeds that I can experiment with some early planting, if only the weather would stay nice for working outside.

  6. I love your seed starting contraption. My second round of tomato seedlings just don't seem to want to sprout....I'm wondering if they're too moist? I'll give them another week or so. I'm still hopeful.

  7. it's windy,rainy and although it is almost 50F it feels like 30F. Yesterday was beautiful.

    Your germination rate looks pretty good...I'm getting frustrated with some of my pepper seed (Hungarian Carrot Peppers)...they just don't want to germinate and it's been nearly 3 weeks.

    Let's all do a sundance so we can garden tomorrow :)

  8. I have never seen the cooler thing before! Wow, that's what I love about these blogs, there is always some new trick to be learned! Can't wait until we can all start reporting on fruit in the ground instead, lol... we all can't wait to get started doing seedlings, then tire of it quickly as the flats start to take over :)

  9. Rebecca, blogger comments are driving me crazy today! first yours and Daphne's comments didn't publish, then I copied from email and answered both of you, now my answer to you has disappeared! I'll try it again :-)

    I've always grown Heritage raspberries before, this is my first time growing a summer bearing berry, Canby. I started with four little canes last spring, and the tiny crop I got tasted good, not as large or as strong flavored as Heritage.

    Do try day neutral strawberries. I was thrilled with my Tristar, even though the berries aren't very large. The flavor is wonderful, and they bear non stop until frost.

    We have very hot (100-110) summers here, but abundant irrigation water. My potatoes were really good and the yield was good, too. My bell peppers were the best and most abundant that I have ever grown. Lets hope I can repeat the successes this year!

  10. Ribbit, some of them take like forever. Just make sure they are warm enough. The soil can be 10-20 degrees cooler than the room temp, so bottom heat does help...or in my case, top heat from a light in a picnic cooler!

  11. It sounds bad -- but I am glad to hear that some of your seeds aren't up yet. I just started my second round of seed starts this season and haven't been impressed with my results yet. Thanks for showing me that I am not alone. Perhaps, as a beginner, I was overly optimistic.

  12. Sunny, my Mini Yellow Bells haven't shown any sign of sprouting yet, nor have my lemon basil, parsley and a bunch of other stuff. Last year I had peppers that didn't germinate for over three weeks, so I tossed the soil blocks back into the bag of potting mix. The next time I went for mix, there were little sprouted peppers in it!

    It finally stopped blowing this afternoon, so I got some broccoli planted.

  13. Erin, I started a bunch of peppers and tomatoes in coolers last year, and they really took off. Unfortunately, most of them froze and died on the way home, so I didn't ever try that again. The cooler works well because it holds the heat and the white interior reflects the light. Once the seeds germinate, I'll cover the inside of the lid with foil to reflect more light. I have a single bulb in it, but it lights up the entire interior.

  14. Leslie, LOL! Patience, patience. I know, I don't have much of that myself! It's a good thing I moved all of mine out to the shed, so I only go hover over them two or three times a day, rather than constantly like I do when they're in the house!

  15. That's funny AG...ok I will try to be patient :)

  16. As always, everything is looking great! I am very jealous of your berries - I just don't have room for any right now.. Our weather has been wacky too. Spring sure can be fickle!

  17. Gidday Granny! The beds are looking very nice and ready for life! That's one sweet looking raspberry frame!!!!

    Do you have to do anything to maintain the strawberries? I have 2 plants (10 cents each from Lowes last year) that have had babies ... and I'm looking at making something a tad more permanent - and low/no maintenance!!! Yours look very happy!

  18. Caffienated Mom, the weather has been teasing me all week. It wanted me to think it was really spring! Actually, the sun just came out and the wind stopped blowing, but I'm doing the moon gardening thingy, and the next four days are "barren days, do not plant". Guess I'll have to clean house or something :-(

  19. Kiwi Gomes, I try to keep the babies cut off the first year. I actually let some of them take root, then cut them loose and move them to a bare spot or another garden. The second year I let each plant keep one baby, and the third year, if the original plants slow in their production, I pull them out and let the new plants take over. That way, the bed gets renewed every third year. There's another way you can do it, by planting in rows and letting the babies fill in between rows, then tilling or digging out the originals every couple of years. I find that gets confusing.

  20. We spent the day gadding about being tourists in our own area... nice day to NOT be in the garden because it was cool, windy, and showery. Poured rain for about 45 minutes late this afternoon which is good for the garden - but not for the gardener!

  21. Something about a row of raised planters just makes my heart rate rise. It is such a beautiful sight when I think of all that will soon be growing :-) I hope the weather warms up soon.

  22. Kitsap, you're lucky you got the rain, we just got the wind. A big cloud came over while I was planting some broccoli, and a few drops of rain fell, but it was sparse and short lived. Not enough to get me wet, let alone water the garden. I had to pack the big sprinkling can out to give everything a drink.

  23. Noelle, I hope it does, too. We really can't count on warm weather until the end of April or the beginning of May, then we go from too cool to too hot seemingly overnight.

  24. I've been having trouble with blogger today too...

    I'm looking forward to mouth-watering berry (and shortcake) pictures!

    We've had a lot of wind too, and some rain here the past 24 hours, but it worked to my advantage today. I doubled my pea harvest from the wind blowing the vines over and showing me the middle of the tangled mess hehehe. I wonder if there are any purple pea varieites out there...

    Oh, and I love your resourcefulness, Granny. I never woulda' thought of using a cooler. G'night!

  25. It is funny we are all dispersed over the countryside, yet we all had the tease of Spring weather, chased away by our version of "cold". Weird that everyone seems to be in the same weather pattern isn't it?

    I hope you get 100% germination soon, all of mine sprung aside from one variety- principe borgese so hopefully yours will all come around too! ( I think you were sowing the Moonglow right??)

  26. Momma_S, A cooler and that small (16") light were all I had for starting plants in AZ in early spring 2009. It worked so well, I wish I had more! Maybe I should have bought one of those humongous fish coolers instead of building the mini-greenhouse/propagator thingy.


    Kelly, more of the tomatoes had germinated when I went out to water them last night. No, I didn't plant Moonglow, but I did plant BY the moonglow, LOL! Heavens, I have so many plants growing, I don't know where on earth I'll put them all ;-)

  27. Wow Granny you have been one busy bee! Lots of transplants going there - you'll be even more busier in the garden when it's time to start planting them.

    The strawberries look so nice! Ah, strawberry shortcake sounds delicious!

  28. Judy, I think I'm going to have to plant some at the neighbor's again this year!

    Shortcake and jam, my two favorite things from the garden :-D

  29. Use straight white vinegar to kill grass and weeds. On a sunny day it works almost as well as round-up, but cheaper and eco friendly. Some things will need another spray (clover), but overall works great.