Heat Wave

The heat wave is over, for now.  From March 31 until April 9, we had at least 10 days with highs in the low 90s, and one day that got to 98.  Evening lows were in the 60s.  Yesterday and today we have lows around 38.  Wow.

Parts of the garden therefore kicked into overdrive.  I had to mound potatoes yesterday for the first time, as we had a bunch that were in the 3-6 inch range.  The onions and garlic continue to grow at alarming rates.  The pretty redbud from Easter is now all leaves.

Potatoes

Snow Peas

Cauliflower and broccoli are growing like weeds, and the lettuces have reached that cute stage where they are large enough to actually *look like* lettuces, but so small they look unreal.

She thinks we have voles, and I am inclined to agree.  So yesterday we picked up some caster oil granules and strew them into the boxes.  I can never think of castor oil without thinking of cod liver oil.  My parents decided on advice (of who, I forget; perhaps a mean doctor or a meddling great-aunt) that at the age of five I needed dousing with the stuff.  I could tell right away that this was going to be awful, but they looked very serious so I opened up and let them feed me a big spoonful.  It was the worst thing.  I’m told I looked up at them like a beaten animal and said, “I wouldn’t feed that to a dog” then went outside and sat on the rear steps staring off into space.  They never had the heart to give me another dose.

We harvested lettuces this week,  enough for 2 weeks of regularly eating salads, and only got about 25% of the lettuces.  So we’ll be eating salads for at least a month, by which time, I expect the next planting will be ready.  We also harvested radishes and carrots, small but tasty.

The Kentucky colonel mint is coming up next to the compressor, but my lime mint hasn’t made an appearance yet, though I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  The blueberry bushes are busy generating little pods that will become blueberries.  The fig bushes have nice leaves now.

The snow peas are doing well.  The sugar snap peas look as though the heat has inspired them to say, “Well, we never germinated well this spring, what with the 20 degree February all month, so we just give up”.  Actually I trellised 2/3rds of a box of them, but that is far short of the 2 boxes we planted in them.

Radishes

Radishes

Broccoli Raab

Indoors, the seedlings are doing their best to make our efforts last year look laughable.  It is a veritable jungle in the basement, all our tomatoes are 8” high or more, and we had to raise the light over them 3 times in the past 10 days.  The celery is booming, and all the peppers are gamely and uniformly pluggin’ along.

Celery

Tomato Seedlings

When she saw the planting jig made by Laura at Modern Victory Garden, I knew by the look on her face that soon I’d be making one.  And I did.  The instructions for making one were easily followed, and the result is a prideful thing.  I used scrap plywood.  The first one is 20″  by 24″, and has 2” spacing.  The second one I’m making is pegged at 1” intervals and is only 4” wide but 48” long.  This will allow us to easily make long rows down one side of a box, so if we’re growing tomatoes or cucumbers or something else tall and trellised on one side, we can move to the other side and run a row of something.

2" planting jib

Jig with handles

4" by 4' jig

For the mathematically inclined, if you are planting something like radishes or carrots on the long narrow one, that is 192 plants per jig, or 576 plants in a 12′ row.  If you wanted to plant a whole 12′ box of them, it would be 2880 plants.  For anything on a 2″ or 3″ spacing, the results are 96 for the jig, or 288 plants in a row.  That’s a nice addition along side a row of 10 tomatoes in a box.

My father gave us 2 brandywine and 2 better boy seedlings he grew from seed, along with 4 water wall day-glo plant protectors.  I set them out in a box, set the water walls around each one this past Monday, and they’re looking fine.  With luck, these 4 plants will start producing tomatoes weeks ahead of the rest of ours.

Water walled tomatoes

These are moonflower pods.  In them were these seeds.

Moonflower

Moonflower Pods

Pod

Pod Close-up

Seeds

Moonflower Seeds

The last average frost date is this week.  That means that as of tax day we can start direct seeding, and putting many of the rest of our seedlings in the ground..

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