Thursday, April 23, 2009

American Giants and Mammoths Oh My

It's only 1:42 p.m. here in Virginia and already I'm exhausted. We're going from a spring-like 60 degrees today to a couple of upper 80's days, so I thought I'd get a little bit done out there.

That way I can enjoy the heat while we mow (again). It also helps to break the endless list of gardening down into bite-size efforts. Otherwise, I'd be planted out in the garden permanently, composting away.

First job today: uncovering the water system, now that the chance of freezing is past. I have one proper faucet in the back yard, and have added an underground system of PVC pipe down to the gardens and the greenhouse, complete with drainpoint and cutoff valves, and of course hose hook-ups at different points.

During the winter, I cover the main access with some of the scrap carpet I use for garden paths, then cover that with a broke-up bail of straw. No matter how cold it gets the water doesn't freeze, and I can still use it for the greenhouse if necessary. (The layers of carpet hold in the heat from the de-composing straw, and keeps the temp fairly warm. I've even had seeds sprout and take hold under the straw.)

Today was the day to pull the straw and carpet off the hookup. The carpet was put back down in the tomato garden to use as a path during the summer.

The straw is broken up and used to cover the sunflower seeds just planted next to the greenhouse. That same greenhouse that is so perfect and warm all winter will be an inferno in July with temps reaching 120 degrees easily. One option to keep it a little cooler is to buy a shade cloth that fits over the outside. I eventually may have to do this, however, the last couple years I've been planting mammoth sunflowers along each side, and letting them keep the sun out.

The key to this is to pick sunflowers in different sizes, that way the shorter ones support the larger ones, and keep them from falling over. Theoretically anyway.

This year's choices? American Giant (16 ft.), Mammoth (7-12 ft.), and Moonshine (4 ft). This way I can honestly tell people I have Moonshine in my backyard, see my other blog:

By June, the greenhouse will look like this:

And in July and August it will look like this:

At the end of the growing season, the sunflower stalks go in the compost bin, and the seed heads go in the dry birdbath, so the birds can snack for most of the winter. Whatever seeds are left get snowed/rained on, and distill into a seed-soup. I use that as fertilizer (think compost tea).

So this morning I planted the sunflowers, broke up the straw, got the water system running full tilt.

Most of these bedding plants can't go outside yet. They'll need just another week or two. for now, the greenhouse vents are open, and they are hardening off, getting use to the wind, and the cool nights, and the hot days. But they're excited about going out with the big boys. I can tell.

After planting two more blueberry bushes, I moved the six new broccoli plants out with their cousins, then added four more bok choy to that bed. We've cleared out the brush pile this year (for the new pond that's going in), so hopefully there won't be as many baby rabbits snacking on the broccoli this year.

Planted a tub of spinach, and eventually will transplant those seedlings outside. Should have bought spinach plants earlier, but it was on the list of stuff to forget.

On tap for this weekend: mowing, putting top soil in the new gourd bed, running new soaker hose, and sitting in the Swing Garden while the pups sleep in the sun. That's the most important job right there.

1 comment:

  1. We've started some giant sunflowers too - we'll have to compare notes later on & see who has the tallest!