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Archive for the ‘Greenhouse’ Category

So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post.  I figure I had better get caught up.  Last year’s potatoes were harvested early due to the fact that the ground squirrels or chipmunks figured out how to climb up the potato cages and get inside to eat the growing tubers.  I had a few carrots to harvest and not many tomatoes from the greenhouse.  But this is another year and another gardening season begins.

I had my first chance this past weekend to get out into the garden to survey what Mother Nature had wrought this winter.  The big snows have melted except in the shaded parts so it was easy to check out the garden.  The voles have been very active this year.  I planted the majority of my garlic last fall in a different area  of the garden and it looks like the voles have made a lot of trips through that area.  I hope they didn’t eat too many of the cloves that were planted.  I did not see any little green sprouts coming up in that area.  I have another smaller area with garlic and they have sprouted and are coming up nicely.  No vole damage in that area.

I weeded in the walls o’ water and around them (in the big garden) so I could get the peas planted, which I did.  And that was great, because last night we had another 2-3 inches of snow.  The peas will be well watered and I hope they sprout soon.  After I finished that project, I moved over to the greenhouse to check things out.

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This was the view that caught my eye as I headed to the greenhouse.  There were several plexiglass pieces blown out of the greenhouse by the wind.  This picture shows the largest piece from the east side.  There were two other smaller pieces, one from the roof and one from the south side of the greenhouse that were also blown out.  The dead aspen fell at the edge of the potato cages, with just some minor crunching of the top of the hardware cloth cages.  The poor lupines under the plexiglass managed to survive and were growing very nicely.  I hope that they survive this spring snow now that they are not protected by the glass.

On the positive side, the daffodils by the greenhouse are almost ready to bloom.  The daffodils planted in the large garden are emerging and should bloom around the end of May.  It appears that most of the roses survived the winter as did the bearded iris.   Most of the lupines up by the greenhouse have nice leaves. It’s spring, and I hope the weekends stay nice so I can continue to get things cleaned up.  I’m hopeful………again.

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Well, The weather has finally warmed up a bit from the May snowstorms and rains so I finally got all of my potatoes planted. I put together 6 more tubes/cages so I would be able to plant all of them. I planted the first variety a month ago, then it got cold for a weekend, I went to visit my mom and sister over Memorial weekend so finally last weekend, I was able to get my gardening on. I wanted to clean out an area that was on the east side of the greenhouse to put the new tubes. Digging up all that grass was tough!! But I got it all out, chicken wire laid on the ground (to keep the ground squirrels from digging into the tubes from underneath) and tubes staked in and wrapped. Then I put mulch on top of the exposed chicken wire. Wrapping the tubes in plastic helps keep the soil from drying out and, as I have discovered, makes a slick surface so small critters can’t climb the wire of the hardware cloth tubes.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

End of day 1 digging grass

End of day 1 digging grass

Finished!!

Finished!!

I must admit that I am an over-achiever when it comes to potatoes. I planted 19 varieties total this year. That’s really too many. Next year, I’m scaling back on the potatoes (she says now). But if you are a gardener like me, you just want to try them all. Most of the potatoes I planted are considered short season, meaning they can be harvested in 60-80 days. That’s just about right for this elevation since I figure we have an average of 90 frost free days a year. Once they are ready, I can leave them in the tubes even after frost (but not freeze) which will help set the skins for storage.

In other veggie news…….this year, I did plant carrot seeds in three of the tubes (not with the potatoes) and they are starting to germinate. My parsnips overwintered, but I am not sure how they will taste. They might be rather bitter. I harvested the first round of greens from the greenhouse today and those will go in the salad for dinner. My peas that are planted in the walls o’ water are growing well. They have not been discovered by critters. And all my garlic is finally up. I’m looking forward to scapes on the garlic soon……..they are wonderful in stir-fry dishes.

Next weekend I’ll plant the tomatoes and herbs that I’ve started. Those will go in the greenhouse. I changed up my tomato varieties a bit this year, using determinate and cold-hardy/short season varieties. I have several different varieties of basil, which will help make marvelous marinara in September. I also want to try some broccoli rabe, rapini and a purple broccoli, but I have to figure out where to plant it. I’m glad the weather is (mostly) nice enough to be able to get out into the garden now.

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I posted last month on the unusually warm weather we were having up here. I also mentioned that we needed a few nice, wet spring snowstorms since the winter has been kind of dry. Well, I got my wish. Except, it was all in one storm. Two weeks ago we had a snowstorm that dumped about 3 feet or more of wet, heavy spring snow. In some places there is still over a foot of snow on the ground. It’s great for the garden, but not so great when you have to shovel all that wet stuff. And now, today, there is thunder with a 60% chance of rain. It’s definitely spring in Colorado…….if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change.

I did make it out to the greenhouse to check on the greens I planted 3 weeks ago. I planted some butter lettuce, microgreens, mesclun mix and chard in the containers in the greenhouse. They were just a bit drought stressed, but they seem to be doing well. And some of the peas that I planted outside in the walls o’ water are finally sprouting. They’ve been protected from the coldest temps, which is good. I also have some parsnips seeds/seedlings that held over from last summer and they are starting to grow as well. I can’t tell if the daffodils and lupines are in good shape, they are still covered in snow.

Looks like it will be a couple of weeks before I can do much else out in the garden. I need to wait for the snow to melt, the soil to dry out a bit so I don’t compact it when walking through the garden. Looks like I’ll have time to make some more potato cages and get ready for when I can get out to plant.

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Well…….I did it. I got out the big guns yesterday and used a grass selective herbicide on the smooth brome in my garden. It will take about 10 days to 2 weeks to start seeing results, but I am hopeful. I got up early to spray and it’s a good thing, there was no wind yesterday morning. That doesn’t happen very often but it was perfect timing yesterday. I didn’t do anything else in the garden yesterday because I wanted the herbicide to dry before I went back out.

So, out I went this morning and I am hopeful once again. The potatoes are recovering from the freeze last week and are putting out new growth. They got hilled up again this weekend, which will be the last time this season. Now I just need to keep up the watering.

Frosted potatoes slowly recovering

Frosted potatoes slowly recovering

The cabbage and aspabroc that I put walls o’ water around last weekend are doing much better. Out of six plants, five of them have put on new leaves. They’re trying to make it. The peas are going gangbusters with the walls around them. Nothing is nibbling on them and the soil is staying moist so they have really jumped up.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are trellised and are doing great. I have 4 pepper plants that were loaded with aphids this morning, but I washed most of them off the plant with water and crushed a lot of them. I hope they don’t find their way back on to the plants.

Something is eating my lupine. I thought they were deer resistant, but I don’t think this is deer damage. This lupine has been there for about 3 or 4 years and was starting to look fabulous. Don’t know if it will survive this.
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My bearded iris have nice flower buds and should be blooming in the next week or so. Looking forward to seeing the colors.

My next big project is to do something about the ground squirrels. They are out of control. They are now digging into my greenhouse, not just out in the big garden. Hopefully all the containers in the greenhouse are high enough off the ground to deter the little ^&^%^&$$%(*@#@#’s. I’m hoping that once the grassy weeds are gone and they don’t have the vegetation cover, they will move out of the garden to someplace else. We’ll see. As always, one can only hope.

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The last time I posted, I was lamenting the amount of snow we had had and that I had to wait to plant potatoes. This past weekend was time for inspection because our weather has been, to say the least, weird. On May 23rd, after the big potato planting weekend, we had massive thunderstorms rolling through the area that produced large marble-sized hail. There was also a funnel cloud spotted in the area so we were under a tornado warning (very unusual for Red Feather Lakes). Who would have thought that this could happen in the mountains at 8600 feet elevation? Well, the funnel cloud was a reality. As we discovered later, there was a massive blowdown of trees by Bellaire Lake and the Bellaire Lake Campground, caused either by tornado or a micro-burst. According to KUNC radio, there were about a thousand trees that were uprooted. The Forest Service said the more trees may come down as the soil is saturated and unstable.

Which leads me to the inspection of my garden. The greenhouse withstood all this weather but some of my plants did not fare so well. The garlic had some leaf damage. The onion sets I had planted the previous weekend, also had some leaf damage as well as leaf shredding of some of the bearded iris. The potatoes were in good shape because they had not produced any leaves above the soil so they were protected. The daffodil flowers took a big hit as the hail knocked off most of the petals.

But the rain did have benefits. It was good for carrot, parsnip and beet seed germination. Almost all the seed has germinated, which means I’ll be thinning the seedlings out in a few weeks so there will be room for the rest to grow to a nice size. My orange mint did not sustain any damage, of course. Mint is one of the toughest plants I have ever grown. I think it will survive anything! My pea seedlings were so small that the hail did not damage them and the added moisture actually help encourage them. Now I just hope the ground squirrels, pocket gophers and chipmunks don’t find them.

I also planted most of my tomato, pepper, eggplant and basil seedlings in the greenhouse. I’m hoping for a nice crop this year from the greenhouse. I’m really trying not to cram too many plants in there so I get a decent harvest. That’s one thing that I really have to watch……I want a lot of produce, so I think more plants is better, when in actuality, less plants will produce more because I can take better of them and they have room to grow.

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I know it has been quite a while since I have posted anything here, so I figured that an update from the mountain was warranted. I was hoping to plant potatoes this weekend, however, the forecast is calling for a winter storm warning starting about 6 p.m. or so tonight and also forecasting low temps in the 20’s for the next few days. So I am going to hold off planting so my seed potatoes don’t freeze. And I’ll try to get them planted next weekend.

I’m changing things up this year. The past few years I have tried to grow tomatoes outside and last year had decent success for 8600 feet elevation. But this year, I think I will do tomatoes in the greenhouse only and am trying to grow cool season veggies outside. Three weekends ago, I planted pea, broccoli, chives, Chinese cabbage and Chinese mustard seeds in the area previously occupied by tomatoes. I diligently watered and covered them with the frost cloth (supported by the upside down tomato cages) in the hopes they would germinate. The tomato cages are serving dual purposes. The will hopefully support the peas as they climb and they are also supporting the frost cloth so it doesn’t lay on the seeds.

The following weekend I arrived home and discovered the toll the hellatious winds had taken on my frost cloth and tomato cages. All the tomato cages were blown over, the frost cloth laying on the ground and a ground squirrel running for its burrow. Not a good start to the weekend. I was very disillusioned. But as a gardener, never say never. And as my husband says, you can’t rush the season up here.

The same weekend I planted pea, etc. seeds, I also planted parsnip, carrot and beet seeds in three of the tubes that I used last year to grow potatoes. I am also making more cages/tubes for potatoes and other veggies as these seem to work really well, especially if I use chicken wire under the tubes so the ground squirrels and voles can’t tunnel up under and into the tubes to eat the veggies.

Last weekend, I changed out the soaker hoses, replaced some of the hose fittings and started watering again. I left the frost cloth off the seeds since rain was predicted for this week. And, indeed, this week there was a nice bit of rain that watered the seeds and this weekend I see one variety of peas are starting to sprout as well as the Chinese mustard and Chinese cabbage. The garlic that I planted last fall is finally starting to nose up out of the ground. The shoots are about 3-4 inches tall. I’m encouraged!! There is progress in the garden.

I’m also getting the greenhouse ready for the warm season plants. Since the soil temperatures and even the air temps don’t get warm enough for warm season crops, I grow them in the greenhouse. I hope to have a fabulous crop of pepper varieties this year. I want to try my hand at canning salsa this year.

I’m pretty sure I won’t get anything else done in the garden this weekend with the storm coming in, so I will take the opportunity to make some comfort food for dinner tonight. Once I get the potatoes planted, I’ll post an update on the varieties.

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Today’s post is a mish-mash of information and random thoughts on the progress of my veggie garden.

The greenhouse tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are doing great.  I have several Roma tomatoes on one tomato plant and there are lots of flowers on most of the other tomatoes.  The eggplants are all flowering and I hope some of them will be setting fruit.  The peppers are all flowering as well and I even have a few little nubs of peppers starting to grow on some of them.  I definitely learned my lesson from last year and am leaving the greenhouse door open all the time so that the bumblebees can get in to pollinate and it doesn’t get too hot in the greenhouse.  I also planted a couple of cucurbits in the greenhouse this year in hopes of getting some summer squash and pumpkins.  I planted an heirloom variety of zucchini, Costata Romanesco and the best pie pumpkin ever, Winter Luxury, in the greenhouse.  I can trellis the cucurbits like I trellis the tomatoes in the greenhouse and the critters can’t eat them either.  I harvested quite a bit of basil this weekend from the greenhouse.  There were several different varieties and they all smelled wonderful.  This harvest I am just drying down to use a dried basil through the winter.  I also planted fennel in the greenhouse and it loves it in there.  The plants are starting to form nice bulbs.

Outside in the garden, most of the potatoes are looking wonderful.  I had four varieties that have never sprouted, so even though I thought they had eyes, they must not have had enough ‘ooomph’ to get them up and out of the soil.  Of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t get any potatoes, because I do still have 9 other varieties that are doing wonderful.  I planted some pole beans and peas along the cordon system that I set up for the grapes that I removed earlier this spring, and of course, they have been eaten by some critter.  They germinated well and I was hoping to get some produce, but doesn’t look like that will happen.   I also tried to plant some winter squashes outside along the same cordon system.  It appears that critters will eat the cotyledons of the cucurbits as the seeds germinate, but once they start producing true leaves, they leave the plants alone.  The leaves of cucurbits can be a bit prickly and not at all palatable to critters.  I do have a couple of Kabocha and Acorn squash that might survive, but I don’t think I will have a long enough season for them to set fruit.  I may have to transplant them to the greenhouse if I can find room in there in order to get some winter squashes.

The tomatoes and eggplants outside seem to be doing well.  I do have one tomato fruit on the ‘Mortgage Lifter’ tomato.  This past weekend I put a floating row cover over the tomatoes to help protect them from the cool night temperatures.  The temps at night are starting to dip into the 40’s and 50’s and this can inhibit the tomatoes from flowering.  I am hoping that the row cover along with keeping them in the walls of water will keep enough heat on the tomatoes that they can produce quite a bit of fruit.  I had a setback when I planted them since we had a dip in the evening temps on June 10th and it settled on a few of the tomatoes and actually killed them.  I lost a ‘Mr. Stripey‘, ‘Brandywine’, ‘Zapotec’ and one of the Romas.  I replanted with a couple of tomatoes that I got at the store and some ‘Indigo Rose’ that I had started in the greenhouse.  Hopefully the row cover and walls of water will extend the season so I can get a lot of tomatoes.

My garlic will probably be ready to harvest in about a month.  The tops have not started to dry down yet, but they did produce scapes, which I cut off and have been using in several dishes that I cook.  They impart a very nice, mild garlic flavor to omelets and salads.  I even used them as a substitute for chives on a baked potato.  I am thinking I might try to find some garlic to plant now, so it has time to set roots before winter hits and I might actually get an earlier harvest next year.  I also have a lot of volunteer potatoes in the allium area.  Apparently, I did not get all the potatoes harvested last year from this area before I planted the garlic.  It will be interesting to see what varieties they are.  I kind of remember what I had planted where, but not totally.

The apple trees all survived the winter, which is good.  They did have some flowers on all the trees, but when we got that frost/low temperature night in June, it killed all the flowers, so there will be no fruit this year on the trees.  It is probably just as well, since root establishment for the first couple of years is more important than producing fruit.

I am getting a lot of weeding done in the vegetable garden and it is a good feeling. I can look out at the progress and it feels great.  I am adding more mulch to the areas that I have weeded to help keep any future weed growth to a minimum.  It is a very noticeable difference in weed growth, the areas that have a lot of mulch vs. the areas where the mulch has thinned.

As the summer moves along, it will be interesting to see what happens.  I’ll be keeping you posted.

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