May 10, 2009

Back from vacation and what has happened?

First, all the herb transplants are doing well.  The basil in particular is taking off!  I see it was a mistake to go off and pot two together.  I think I’m going to split them up now, hopefully they will be OK–have not seen basil listed as a plant that hates “root disturbance”.  I just can’t figure it out–I thought it was the light in the sunroom, but the transplants are doing fine…unless seedlings need a broader spectrum of light than mature-er plants?

Basil May 9

Basil May 9

My onions seem to be growing somewhat slowly, but perhaps I’m paranoid given prior seedling experience!  They live outside with the chives, which have also gotten some new leaves.  Actually the onion that “looks” best to me is the only surviving onion from my “experiment” of just sticking some bulblets down in the foundation bed.  It looks best as the leaves are getting long enough to spread, while my potted onions are not. 

Egyptian Onions May 9 in pot

Egyptian Onions May 9 in pot

Egyptian Onions May 9 in soil
Chives May 9

Chives May 9

Yesterday, fresh off the plane, I went to a course sponsored by Drumlin Farm/Mass Audubon–“small scale agriculture”–it was great.  Our instructor, Robin Wilkerson, a master gardener, gave the class out in her place (a several acre former dairy farm), and we got to see her system of vegetable planting, her fruit trees and plants, herb garden and wildflower garden, and her flock of 12 chickens!  She gave lots of helpful ideas for planning a garden–for example, plant late season crops like pumpkins that take up a lot of space when maturing next to plots that will have died down by that point, such as strawberries.  

Another point that was made was getting soil tested–the state extension will test your soil and let you know what you need to do to amend it.  Lead is a concern in this region of the country given the old houses so we are definitely getting that done.  As I’m sticking to containers this year, no rush but will be good for planning for next year.  (Sadly, it can’t be amended–but you can container garden most things so it’s not the end of the world!)  Still, I wonder why this area is so much worse given that lead wasn’t banned in paint until the 1970s, and then I wonder about all those gardeners in Europe.  Regardless, I’m testing and will follow the recommendations, and meanwhile cross my fingers.  I can always grow inedibles in the ground, after all.  (I’m not so excited about that as I guess it’s not “utilitarian” enough for me, but I’m sure I can get into it!)

We also discussed the wonders of compost (FYI even organic bananas should not go in compost piles as they are sprayed to prevent the entry of tropical insects into the country), blueberries (which thrive in the naturally acidic New England soil) and just enjoyed being in a beautiful, diverse garden.  I’m going to sign up for her second class later this summer.  And we learned to identify the insidious garlic mustard.  And no sooner had I gotten home but I noticed it was all over our patio, along with cat’s ear and several unidentified weeds.  At least the garlic mustard is easy to pull.  Theoretically you can eat it, but I’m not going to bother with that just yet.

Evil Garlic Mustard

Evil Garlic Mustard

What is it?

What is it?

We got a “take home gift”, some of Robin’s chives.  (We were given these to demonstrate just how hardy plants can be–ripped them apart at the roots after digging them up and then taking them home).

Chives from Class

Finally, Robin’s most important “words of wisdom” were that failures build character (how New England a statement is that?) and are your tuition in learning to garden.  She still has failures after 20 years so none of us should get too discouraged!  Something I am repeating to myself here. 

For Mother’s Day we are going to the garden store to pick up some transplants, tomatoes and what else?  Hopefully the veggie transplants will do as well as the herbs!


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    ap269 said,

    As to the soil/lead problem… Why don’t you think of growing veggies in raised beds? I’ve got my veggies and herbs in raised beds ( You’ll just need some frames and you can get the soil you want/need….

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