May 31, 2010

Let's Get It Started!

If this isn't just a party in a box I don't know what is. These little gems are going to be flowering potatoes and they just made me smile when I opened the box. Hopefully the potatoes will be as good to eat as the packaging looks.

This is the week that as a gardener I look forward to all year. The end of May is the official last frost date in Chicagoland and all the vegetables can safely be planted out. This is actually the latest I've planted out but it was a busy month with work so although I feel off track a bit I'm really right on schedule.

I planted the flowering potatoes with three types of beans. In "Great Garden Companions" by Sally Jean Cunningham she claims that planting potatoes and bean together helps to reduces the number of Colorado potato beetles and Mexican bean beetles. We'll see, but I think the flowering potatoes will look pretty with green, purple and yellow beans.

I also got all the tomatoes planted even though they we're looking pretty leggy. I just end up digging a trench and planting the stems horizontally. This helps give the tomatoes a good root system and allegedly an earlier harvest.

My eggplants were the largest that I've ever planted out so I'm hoping for a productive and early harvest from them. I am starting to see some flea beetle holes in the leaves but I'm hoping that they're large enough to not let that damage them too much.

I put in four peppers so far with several more to add. I hope to plant more carrots ,lettuce and beets this week as well.

It's been a hot spring so far and I hope that this bodes well for the coming summer so that I'll have lots of heat loving veggies to share.

May 6, 2010

Batavia Plain Dirt Gardener's Plant Sale

Don't forget that the Batavia Plain Dirt Garden Plant Sale is this Saturday May 8th from 9am-12pm at the Bethany Lutheran Church near Route 31 and Wilson Street in Batavia Illinois. There will be thousands of nursery grown and member grown plants have been dug from members gardens. They always have a great selection of native plants and because they come from local gardens they are adapted to our local climate. Proceeds go to the Wild Flower Sanctuary and fund scholarships given by the Batavia Plain Dirt Gardener Club. I'll give you fair warning that the line starts outside early around 8am and most plants are gone earlier than the noon cut off. This is a great opportunity to support the club and get great native plants for an inexpensive price.

May 2, 2010

Lettuce and Broccoli and Cauliflower, Oh My!

The lettuce in my "Salad Bowl" bed is looking good despite my best efforts to impede it's growth. I have to admit I'm not very good with the hardening off stage of gardening. Yes, I did acclimate the lettuce seedlings by putting them outside for two weeks but I left them on the shaded front porch and didn't get them used to the sun a few hours at a time. All of a sudden they were getting too big for the APS pots and had to go in the ground now! I pried them apart as best I could, stuck them in the bed with lots of compost, watered gently, covered them with row covers to shade them and then left for San Francisco for three days. Thankfully they forgave me and after looking near death and tattered they have staged a surprising come back. I call this my "Salad Bowl" bed because in addition to the lettuce I just planted onion and shallot bulbs here and will plant parsley shortly. That way I can just walk off the deck and grab what I need for a salad.

I've also had the broccoli, pak choi and purple cauliflower sitting on the shady front porch and with a few days of forecasted clouds decided to get them into the ground as well without fully adapting them to the sun's strong rays. I don't really recommend this to anyone unless they use row covers or shade cloth. It's an experiment for this lazy gardener that so far seems to be working out well. I mean who really has the time to be trotting your plants in and out of the sun every few hours for a week? Certainly not me!