End of February Update

Not much news to report today.  I was on vacation for a week, had a wonderful time but now spending several days recuperating.  This getting old stuff sucks, but at least I can still have a good time even if there is a price to pay for it so shouldn’t complain too much.

In the garden my early greenhouse tomato starts are looking good.  They were looking pretty crummy as they got neglected during vacation time but I gave them some good fertilizer (Pureblend Pro, draw your own conclusions…) and after a couple of days they got dark green and are now growing much faster.  If anyone ever needs some great soluble fertilizer I can strongly recommend Maxigrow.  It’s a concentrated powder, you mix a teaspoon or so per gallon using the enclosed scoop and it’s a 100 percent complete fertilizer, suitable for hydroponics and great for supplementing seedlings in soil or potting mix.  Pureblend Pro is great stuff but it’s expensive, I just have a gallon or so left over from a previous gardening project that I’m using up, but I’ve switched off to Maxigrow / Maxibloom as it’s a fraction of the price and works at least as well.

I invested in a bunch of those fancy expensive Petunia seeds, the “Wave” series, and only got about 50 percent germination on them so not thrilled about that, and several of them are growing like weeds while the others are growing much more slowly.  Hopefully they’ll get big enough in a month or two to be able to take cuttings off them to grow out for summer markets.  I’ve got a lot more flowers going this year for cut flowers, I hope that the market will pick up with a good supply.  I just can’t believe folks won’t pay $3 or so for a nice bouquet of cut flowers that will last a week when I see what they pay at the florist (10 times that).

I’m concerned about the bee situation as the Italian hive has suddenly gotten very quiet.  There’s bees there, but not many.  I can only hope that there’s brood waiting to hatch as the number of bees out foraging seems small.  The hive in the top bar is going gangbusters, just an incredible number of foragers working every day even in the cold weather.  It just seems to be a better strain of bee better adapted to our weather, so hopefully I can split it this Spring and make another hive or two out of it.  I was  told a person in town has a wild hive in their barn that’s been there for many years and makes a lot of swarms, so this may well be a descendant of that hive which would be great as it’s proven genetics.

Next week I’ll be starting a bunch of new stuff for the plant sales, which will start the last week of April, lots and lots of tomatoes to eventually go in one gallon pots, plus more stuff as I saw people buying lots of different types of veggie starts I’d never considered.

I stopped by Nichols in Albany today, which is always a blast.  A huge room filled with shelves with hundreds of seeds trays to choose from.  One nice thing is they have bulk seed for beans, peas and corn among other things at great prices.  I got a couple of varieties of snow / snap peas for $2.80 per pound, some interesting seed potato varieties for $1.30 per pound and a few seeds while I was there.  That’s some real bargains compared to other sources, basically a pound of snow pea seed for the price of a packet.  I picked up several pounds of some nice looking purple potato just to see if it sells at the market as I was surprised at how well plain potatoes were selling and at high prices since they were “local and organic”.

I had to cut the grass last week so the nice weather is a mixed blessing, but my first plum tree has been in full flower for a week an the peaches are pink, getting ready to pop, so it’s sure nice to see Spring here when so many are still freezing.

Getting The Season Started

It’s definitely Spring out there.  The plum trees have a few open flowers and swollen buds, the peach tree buds are bright pink and the brambles are leafing out.

My early tomatoes under the light are about a week old and are getting their first true leaves and the herb seeds I started, oregano and thyme have germinated really well.  They’re so tiny, just little green pinheads, but this year I just sprinkled them on some composted and spritzed them with water, then gave them some indirect light.  It worked really well, they can be tough to start.

This afternoon I started ten flats of various flowers, the ones that are slow growing like Dianthus, Larkspur, Strawflower, Nicotiana and Phlox. It’s easy to say that, not so easy to do.  Each flat gets filled with compost, then I use my finger tip to make a dent in the center of each cell.  Then comes putting the seeds in, varying from one to ten or so in each cell depending on the size.  Finally each cell gets the edges moved to the center to lightly cover the seeds and gets a good spritz of water.  I did ten flats, each with 72 cells, so that makes for a lot of fiddly work, but it should yield lots of nice flowers. I did notice that the volunteer Calendula in the greenhouse are blooming like mad, there an opportunity there for early flowers.

Foggy this morning, the fog line was my west property line.  That end was foggy, the greenhouse and gardens were enjoying bright blue sky!  It happens pretty often in the winter being right at the edge of the valley. I get up and it’s sunny, then go downtown four blocks away and it’s dense fog…

That’s all for today, still on the ipad until next week, but I am getting faster with two-finger typing!

Another season started

Last week I started two flats of tomatoes for the greenhouse since they’ll go out in late March.  Ten to twenty of 8-9 varieties, I’ll list them later. The Macbook is down and on the iPad this week so no long entries.

I also started all my onions and leeks indoor to get them started then they’ll go out to the greenhouse.   Have I some onions growing well out there but it took them a couple of weeks to sprout versus 3days inside. I remembered the heat pads for the tomatoes this year and they were all up in 72 hours with the soil at 85 degrees, it made a huge difference!

I cut a ton of scion wood from all the fruit trees when I was pruning And have them in the fridge.  I have five apple and five plum rootstock I planted last year.  I’ll use three of the plum for peaches as you can’t have enough peaches plus they’re fast bearers and don’t get too big. I want another King apple and another Belle de Boskoop, and I actually found out a friend has an Orleans Reniette which I’ve been looking for for ages. He also has a honeycrisp which I think I’ll try. I’ve had a few and they were pretty good plus he says they’re great keepers.

The Lane County Propagation Fair is the weekend of March 28 and I can’t recommend it enough. 100+ varieties of apple, 50+ of pear, 30-40 of plum and lots of other stuff, all free!  It’s an amazing event and we’re incredibly lucky to have a group of dedicated volunteers who put it together.  Thanks folks!