Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beginner gardening

Red Pearl

I decided to take a stab at growing some vegetables this year.  I started the seeds back in February and March in egg cartons.  I used a cheap 48" light fixture with aquarium bulbs to give the seedlings light.

What I started:
High Mowing Seeds Aton Basil
High Mowing Midnight Lightning Zuchinni
Johnny's Red Pearl Grape Tomato
Johnny's Hybrid Strawberry
Territorial Seed Company Bitonto Hybrid

It has been mostly successful, but I have a lot of learning to do.  As fertilizer, I've been using a combination of Jobe's granules and fish emulsion per P. Allen Smith's suggestion.  However, trying to figure out how much to use, has been a bit of an experiment: 2 cups Jobe's granule's in the bed and 1/2 tsp of fish emulsion in 2 gallons of water monthly.

Bitonto and Basil

First, tomatoes are pretty easy to grow, but they grow a lot taller than I expected.  When my neighbor offered me his tomato cages back in May, I should have accepted.  At the time, my plants were barely a foot and it was pouring rain every day.  I didn't think they would grow at all, much less taller than me. Now, my plot is mess of stakes of varying heights and crisscrossed string trying to help keep them happy and upright.

Second, ants can destroy your plants.  I lost one within a couple days of transplanting because they built a mound right over the plant.  A border of diatomaceous earth has kept that problem under control.

Third, wheat straw makes good mulch, but an entire bale in the backyard can freak out the dog in the middle of the night.  I can sort of see how it might look like a shaggy, unmoving dog in the moonlight...

Fourth, having fresh basil  in the garden is fabulous.  I have pulled off some pretty great meals using that basil including some caprese sandwiches and last night's pasta dish: Spinach penne and sauteed summer squash, tossed with olive oil and lemon and garnished with homemade ricotta and fresh basil.  So summery.

Finally, I don't know how to grow squash, zuchinni or zephyr.  (I bought a couple zephyr plants at the farmers market.)  Either the soil has too much nitrogen or there aren't enough bees to pollinate, because I'm not getting much.  The couple of baby squash I have seen, disappear on me.  Critters? 

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