How did I miss the deadline for the May Garden Journal by more than a week?! Here is my entry to the long over May Garden Journal Challenge
Alrighty! No more than ten photos to show you the progress in my tiny garden over the past month! I've taken at least thirty!
The month has been nearly all about my cold frame. Managing the care of the plants in this thing has not been easy. On the nights when it was going to get too cold, I'd put gallons of hot water in it just before closing it up for the night. The following mornings, I had to get out there early to crack it open or it would over heat but not get too cold, then out again a bit later to open it more. On the nights the temps would be dipping into the thirties, I did all of the above and covered the whole thing with hay and a bed sheet held in place by bricks.
Keeping these seedlings alive has been a lot like having a brand new puppy - constant work and worry, with moments of pride and joy all along the way. It seemed the day that I could plant my precious seedlings (100% survival rate!) would never come. Below are a couple of shots of my seedlings busting out of the cold frame, a few days before I finally braved letting my babies out into the world on their own.
Whenever I potted up a few more seedlings, I'd have to rearrange the whole thing. Some of the seedlings were clearly suffering and needed to go into the ground. It was still too early for them to be out without protection on the nights that were expected to dip into the low forties, so I planted five of them right inside the cold frame: two cucumbers and three tomatoes. The rest of the tomatoes I turned, still in their pots, sideways, as many people suggested I do, to increase the part of the stems that would become roots. This had the added benefit of making them shorter! If you look closely at the first shot of my cold frame, you can see three pots on their sides. This turned out to be a good idea, since I can't dig very deeply here in Rockland County, so named for good reason.
I learned my lesson - do not start the seedlings too early! Nothing is gained but a ton more work. I started them in mid March this year, next year I'll make that mid to late April and save myself a lot of worry and time. I'll have to set up grow lights though, since the sun will be too high in the sky to illuminate even my large south facing window enough to start seedlings.
I thought I was being frugal and smart when I transplanted one variety of tomato, White Tomesol (free seeds), into square pots and the other, Hungarian Heart, into round pots, putting a marker in only one of each. But those markers got lost and now I do not know which is which. But they are in the ground.
When temperatures were not expected to dip below 52 degrees at night for the next ten days, I planted everything out into the ground. I did this a few plants a day. Once all that was done, I put up some nifty trellises for the cukes to grow up and thus save some space in my 8 feet by 12 feet veggie patch. Although the plants in the area where the cold frame was, are planted too close together, with lettuce and radishes at their feet, the other plants are nicely spaced (I think - we'll see) with lots of room. The tomatoes and peppers got extra calcium, all plants were planted where I had amended the soil with an organic fertilizer, compost and chicken crap. Everything has started to thrive, even the Lesya peppers, which had been growing so sluggishly I wasn't sure they would survive.
In the lower right hand corner, we have the cold frame area chockablock with cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, radish, and swiss chard. Moving clockwise from there, I have another Chicago Pickler Cucumber on a trellis, sweet peas in the back left corner, a zucchini, some medicinal weeds that I will harvest when the zucchini gets bigger, and a couple swiss chards in front of the peas. The clay pots contain a dwarf tomato, Orange Hat, that I hope to give as gifts. Along the right side, my unidentified tomatoes and Lesya peppers.
While small, this veggie patch has been just the right size for me in terms of the time it takes to tend it. I'd say I have never had to work more than two hours in a single day on it, and most days I keep it to under one hour. The days after I'd gotten it all in the ground, the only task I had to do was to go out and take pictures. Every plant gets a fond greeting and a caress or three from me. Communing with my plants makes me swell with pride and happiness! This, and that they will in turn nourish me, and have several times already, connects me with all of creation. Nothing could be finer!
I've also been busy producing posts on Hive about my garden, my garden tools, and foraging for edible and medicinal plants. Below are links to my previous posts.
Tiny Veggie Garden Posts
all images by me