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Sunday, March 15, 2009

How About Gardening Before Spring Starts?

Today is the 15th, ONLY 5 MORE DAYS UNTIL SPRING (March 20th, 2009)!!! Yeah!!

Unfortunately, western Washington is a drizzle the last few days with just enough rain to dampen my spirits for gardening. I want so badly to go out and be able to run my hand through warm soil, but not today, again…

Earlier I was sitting here looking out my library window at my raised bed garden, and longing to be outside working the soil. It did not know wether to snow, sleet, hail or rain. Oh Well!

My garden is 12”deep, by 12’ wide, by 20 feet long and lies in line with the rise and setting of the sun. The soil is rich, dark and ready, as all of the weeds have already been pulled out a few weeks ago. The only standing plants in my garden now are my two Thompson seedless, two Concord grapes and two red raspberry vines.

Next to my garden bed are my two dwarf apple trees sitting in their bright blue buckets. The trees are loaded with new buds, just waiting to sprout fresh leaves. Last year I harvested my first crop of apples, a total of 6 apples between both trees.

The small garden bed opposite my long bed currently has a lonely peach tree, (it needs a second to produce fruit) and some of my transplants.
What are transplants you ask? Well, I never turn down free flowers or trees. Right now I have 4 three foot high Douglas Firs and a half dozen two foot high Lilac bush starts with full roots. I have not decided where they will go yet so I am leaving them alone for now.

Inside our home, I have planted twenty different varieties of vegetables in a store bought 72 plant in-house starter kit.

I deliberately selected my oldest seeds from 1990, as a test to see how good the seeds still are. I am impressed; I managed to get 11 plants from about 4 different species. The other 61 starts can now be re-seeded since it has been two weeks and no other seeds have come up yet.

So what did I learn from this? Well, you can get some older seeds to grow even though they are very old seeds.

If I were in a survival food management situation right now, I would say plant some of the older seeds in an area that can be monitored and if seeds grow, you have a bonus. If not, you have lost nothing by trying. Do deep transplant so they do not die when moving them to a more fertile growing spot. Also, make sure you labeled the locations so you do not get just surprises of unknown plants, until closer to harvest time. In gardening we call these volunteers...

I will continue to plant the ‘sure seeds’ and newer brands of seeds every two weeks until all of the 72 ‘seed pods’ have sprouted. This way I will not lose all of the old seeds.

The trays start out with 72 flat discs.

When you add water, they expand enormously into a rich dark growing medium. Cool to watch!

Once expanded, you then just plant your seeds by driving a sharpened pencil or pen head down into the soil, add the seeds, cover and wait two weeks. I followed their instructions of keeping the cover on and keeping the tray out of direct sunlight for the first two weeks. We keep our home at 69 degrees year round inside.

The inside of the tray lid built up with moisture and some mold formed which I scratched off and continued to wait. Once the new plants sprouted and were two inches high, I moved the tray to our bay window, which has a nice southern exposure. The plants really seem to love that warmer spot.
While I am talking about plants, I planted a giant avocado seed about three months ago and it is now a two-foot tall tree. Anybody have any experience in growing avocados to maturity to produce fruit? Was this in Washington? Will they grow fruit without a second tree?

On a different subject, but related to gardening, I also went through my entire water storage in our garage and found out that several of my three and four year old plastic containers had aged enough that they were leaking; so after three years, make sure you rotate your old water if in plastic containers, or expect the worst to happen to your storage lockers or cabinets. In this case, I was lucky. They were old cheap cabinets stored inside my garage and not inside my house.

My old cabinets were made of particleboard. Both the water’s cardboard boxes and the particleboard had expanded, molded and smelled very ugly.

These older waters were all replaced and I moved these oldest waters outback of my home, to be used in emergency for toilet flushing and garden watering now. Those not leaking I left in their boxes, but moved them safely outdoors to another outside plastic storage area so no further damage can occur, (should more of them start leaking also). Lesson learned!

Fortunately for me, I discovered the leaks as I was in the process of replacing my older particle-board cabinets with some nicely finished plywood cabinets that were given to me. The mold is gone! The old water has been replaced by fresh water!
My older water has now been moved outside closer to the garden area! New water has been purchased and stored inside my garage and will be rotated sooner than three years for future…

1 comment:

Kymber said...

Excellent post Bill - I really enjoyed this! (although I am very jealous that there is NO SNOW anywhere to be seen in your pics! we are still pretty snow-covered up here in Ottawa, Canada!)
However - your raised beds look great! Thanks for sharing the info about your aged seeds and thank goodness you replaced those cabinets!
Keep up the good work that you are doing here!

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