Troubles getting things planted

jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)March 27, 2013

Last year at this time I had 5 of my 6 high tunnels planted, I had 4 of the 6 movable tunnel spaces planted. I had close to 1/2 acre of potatoes planted, first planting of radishes, turnips and green beans planted, all my plastic mulch down, I even direct seeded cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon and cantaloupe. The direct seeded stuff was a calculated risk that paid off. My soil temps were above 65 and the stuff under the plastic mulch was in the 70's.

I even think I mowed the yard once or needed it, but I was too busy planting.

This year I have 1 hoop building planted and 1 movable spot planted.

I need to get things moved to the high tunnels and planted, but it has been too cold. I was going to move things out to harden off last week, but I wasn't going to risk it with cloudy conditions, lows in the teens and snow predicted. Today I am going to move things out. This weekend I hope to move my movable buildings and try to get things planted. I usually try to get my first planting of zucchini and little cucumbers in the movable tunnels by the 15-20th of April.

My tomatoes are ready to go, been ready to go for a 10-14 days, but they are still inside. I am going to move them out soon too.

As far ahead as we were last year, I am feeling we are going to be that far behind this year.

How are things going for you?


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Last year was a fluke, an outlier as far as the norm goes. Don't count on it for how "normal" this season is progressing.

I will give it to you though, spring is late in arriving in Michigan too. I'm out of grow light space in the house and am working on getting the transplant holding space ready in my caterpillar tunnel today. Will be using propane heat as a back up to the single layer of hoophouse plastic and a double cover of Agribond 19 over low hoops for my onions and leek flats. Nothing fancy for heat, just a small heater that screws onto the top of a 20 pound propane tank if we get a really hard freeze.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 11:22AM
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same problem here. it looks like next week is a bit warmer i expect to start setting the tomato plants in the high tunnels with row covers ready starting this weekend. outside planting is a joke with a couple of inches of snow on the ground.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 11:58AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Back up heat looks like it is going to be necessary this year again. I have used the small heater on top of the propane bottle, they work fine and have saved my crops before. The only problem is there isn't a thermostat. So you end up using more propane than needed. I usually just turned it on around midnight, that is when it started getting cold enough and let it run all night.

DeRock, I know it was a fluke, but we aren't even running near the "averages" either. I sure hope that changes soon.

I think next week will be warmer here, but only time will tell.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 12:11PM
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Running about 10 degrees below normal here (last year was above normal but got hit with 3 below-freezing nights the last week of April). Looks like next week will be closer to normal, but with 3" of snow on the ground I still haven't even planted peas yet. I do have to call feed store about potatoes - maybe I can get those planted in next couple of weeks - or might wait til beginning of May.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 12:16PM
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We had anywhere from 6-11 inches of snow here Monday and lows around 20 this morning. I have absolutely nothing in the ground and am watching 5,000 onions and a case of leeks shrivel up. I know they will keep a little longer, but they sure are looking sad. The same can be said for the couple hundred lbs of seed potatoes that are cut and waiting. Every day, new boxes show up on my porch with trees, bushes, seeds, and roots that need planting. Oh well. Soon, I know I'll be up to my elbows in mud. Who knows, maybe we'll finally have a good year here after 2 years of flooding and the worst drought in eighty years.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 2:36PM
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I'm just about ready to put the plastic on my second high tunnel. I had been planning on growing a crop of container tomatoes and cukes and trying to finish them by June when it gets hot. But now it doesn't look like there is going to be enough time before it gets too hot, so I think I will just plant in the ground in the high tunnel, so the plants stand a chance against the heat. I hope we're done with the 100-degree summers, but I doubt it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 5:03PM
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We are running about 10-15 below normal, while last year was 30 above and set record highs.

We can count on having the record highs each year, but I don't push my plants as much as some of you do.

My goal is to have tomato plants outside in garden between mid-late May. If I have 2-3 of warm weather before that, great, if not, no problems. I don't have the earliest tomatoes, just the best tasting and best looking.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:28PM
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We are also running 10 degree below normal too, but I'm glad! It means longer time for lettuce & sugar snap peas before it gets too hot!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Hang in there folks the good weather is right around the corner.

We have been a couple of degrees above average both day and night which has gottien us into safe territory. It's nearly impossible that anything will be damaged by weather at this time except by bolting. Worst case scenario is slow growth.

Anyway, since I was lazy during cool season and got a really good jump on warm season I am happy with the weather this year.

Onions all started very well, short day transplants and intermediate day direct seed.

A small amount of lettuce is cruising....better late than never.

Going to have a bumper crop of Kale( big deal right) it grows like a weed.

Been selling tomato plants that were finished sizing up outdoors since for three weeks now, with successions at all stages coming in all outdoors. Getting $3 for 6" plants in solo cups and less sell at $4+ $1 pot deposit if I pot them up to a quart.

A cautious amount of peppers are ready to go in but I may buy more same with eggplant. Basil plants are 6" high and ready to sell and transplant with row cover. Planted early girls about a month ago and a week later several large transplants of each variety of tomato. There are about 30 plants in and that will almost double in the next few days.

Zucchini is in with the next succession looking great. First watermelon are up in 4" square pots and will get planted in 4-5weeks.

Still direct seeding beets and carrots. I have been negligent there.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:13PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Well you all are gonna hate me, but Oregon is having one of the nicest late winter/early springs that I can remember. Lots of direct seeded greens, beets, carrots, peas, potatoes planted, hot weather stuff going into the hoops this week.
Of course, knowing my luck, It'll probably start pouring the first of April and not stop till July.

I'm sorry to hear it's starting off cold and late for many of you...


    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 1:05AM
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Mark, your weather has been looking really good on our maps, since the jet stream dips after it leaves you, and gives us the colder side.

Good to hear all the plantings, since we still have snow on the ground from this weekend's 12". Has only warmed into the real low 40s and it's taking time to melt this stuff.

I have to deliver my contract of tomatoes, peppers, and such tomorrow. He will be planting very soon. His first planting (purchased from my greenhouse friend) hasn't done very good, even if the plants were wonderful. Personally, I think he's trying to push TOO far this year.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 9:28AM
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38 and snow/sleet mix right now. And I sent DD off to school with just a long-sleeved T shirt and a windbreaker since TV weatherman said last night it was supposed to be warmer (mid-40's), though rainy, today! Beautiful and 53 this weekend though. I forgot that's Hartford weather - colder here in the hills.

Oh well, amybe they'll have indoor recess....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 9:44AM
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This weekend is supposed to warm, maybe I'll get out in the garden and clean up what I should have last fall. At least the old plants should come up easier since it should be moist. I'll need to open the hoophouse and water everything that have been in there waiting.

Maybe even lay out where I want the new lilac bushes to go????

Of course all that AFTER a local FFA auction on Saturday.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 10:23AM
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Looks like most of the country is colder than normal. I also heard on the news last night that b/c of increased moisture from Hurricane Sandy (?) pollen count is going to jump next week. DD and DH already seem to be feeling the effects.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:00AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

In February I was watching the 2 month forecasts and many of them were saying the same thing. February will be cold, here in Kansas, as the jetstream will remain dipped down in the central US. They all said they expect the jetstream to move further east and the central US will warm up, like last year.

Well March is almost over and the warm up never happened. I am glad you are still nice and warm Mark, that is what we had all last spring. It was really nice.

Sorry back east people, it looks like Spring is still delayed!

It looks nice a warm this weekend, with some moisture coming on Saturday and Monday. We cut up 1/4 of our potatoes and we are going to try to plant them tonight. We usually try to plant them on St. Paddy's day. Two weeks late, isn't too bad!


    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 1:24PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

We still have snow cover and no patches except along edges. But we saw robins today!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:18PM
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We also still have a few snow patches, but tomorrow and Saturday should be in the 60s (took long enough). Monday back down to 42 as a high, then crawling back up thru next week.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:51PM
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We had about 5 inches of snow fall on Monday but it was all melted by noon the next day. I could have had all the potatoes planted by now but the drive gear on the troy bilt wore out. That's my biggest hold up right now, waiting for that gear to come in the mail.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 10:44PM
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By the time our 12" all melts (probably today), then Monday they're calling for another 1-2". I'm so ready to start planting outside.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 6:50AM
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I stopped by the feed store yesterday and looked for potatoes, they told me a few weeks ago they'd have them the end of the month but now they're saying a couple more weeks -"Too early" the owner told me. Don't remember why I planted late last year (Mother's Day) but I thought it was just me slow going. 2011 was definitely too wet (even the peas rotted). Snow is just about gone now, will be all gone by Monday with temps supposed to be over 50 (!) but rain tomorrow so I'll have to see Monday how wet the ground is and what soil temp is. Maybe I can get some peas in.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 6:57AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Obviously I want to swear like crazy. I am most disappointed in my own hubris that made me make a very ambitious season extending and successive planting schedule. I am now 3 weeks behind in planting since I meant to start seeding a little on 4/1. I have not even been able to cultivate or haul manure at all!!! So I am hoping by the end of this week I can start that. I am hoping to start planting next Tuesday the 23. I am going to have to start with transplants and then squeeze in seed sowing because the starts are ready to plant and the onion plants arrive in 2 days. I am most worried about the Napa cabbage since I was particularly not going to let it get root bound and then bolt prematurely like last year.

I took this pic Sunday after getting about 8 inches of snow Thursday and another 2 Sunday. Today that south side of the house is melting but there is still snow under the greenhouse. I will put the top on again on Friday and move the plants out Saturday. I had moved them out on 4/4 and that very night they completely froze and some of the brassicas and scallions died even though they had row cover on them in the greenhouse! So that was dumb. Then I brought them back in last Tuesday when snow was forecasted. It has been extremely cold and windy! My seed racks in the basement are full and I have to get the hardy stuff back out!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 4:30PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

While we don't have the snow, it has been cold for April in Kansas. We have a chance of severe weather on Wednesday and then possibly snow on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

Seeding is going slow. The year I decide to forgo lots of the cool season stuff, I get hit with a year with a cold spring. The carrots and onions in the high tunnels are growing like gangbusters. The onions that were in one of the movable tunnels, now outside, look ok, but are wanting some warmer days!

I did get 325 tomatoes planted on April 6 in the high tunnels. I have been covering and uncovering them since then, double and triple cover. Also under those covers are 300 cucumber and zucchini transplants that are going to go in the movable tunnels in another 2 weeks. I also have round 2 of tomatoes under there and my hanging cherry tomato baskets. I have to pot up 500-600 peppers and tomatoes to sell. I just haven't had time. I seeded round three on the tomatoes and the 4th planting of lettuce.

Potatoes are in the ground, but doing nothing and the Garlic is looking nice!

Here is to warmer weather!


    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 2:48AM
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Here it's rain, barely was able to get some of the mowing done between rains. Have to mow or bale it, really healthy thick grass. We did get to walk into the garden, about 4' til started to sink (garden in on slight slope). I have moved everything of mine out to the hoophouse, but that's as far as we've got.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 8:16AM
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Rain here too in Michigan. We got 4 inches in the last week and they are talking another 2 inches in the next two days. I can't even walk in the fields much less till. Such is the fate of having heavy clay loam.

Onions should have been in with row covers already. Potatoes are sprouting like crazy in the basement and are screaming "plant me".

The good news is the garlic is growing nicely since it started to warm up a bit. Still haven't had the need to cut grass yet and some of the trees are just starting to bud out.

It's a good thing that our first CSA delivery isn't until June!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 8:24AM
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We had a massive planting session a couple weeks ago and got in all the onions, leeks, shallots,and potatoes. That's it. I wonder if it's even worth planting the cool weather stuff. I added another 200 asparagus across the top of my pond dam and replaced most of the perennials lost to the drought. Weather has been such that I haven't been able to spray fruit trees, so everything may be wormy this year. Hopefully, the weather has the curculio confused too. Asparagus is really sluggish as is the rhubarb. Haven't sold a thing.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 10:59AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Jay, I got plenty of time to help you transplant (if I could get there). I transplanted tomatoes today. The forecast made me start to cry this morning: 4-8 more inches of snow tomorrow! So I don't even know if I can do anything outside yet even this weekend. I have never seen anything like this. We get snow here and there in April many years but not just sustained cold like this. I haven't even been able to rake the leaves off my perennial flower garden in the backyard yet. I don't know how I will prioritize next week with everything needing to go in and no cultivating or irrigation even started!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 7:20PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

We got about 10 more inches of snow, fluffy kind not wet. Very serious here now to have any spring crops.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 7:35PM
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We received about 5" of rain since Sunday, and am very glad it wasn't snow. they're calling a rain blizzard. Our river is to hit one of the top 10 levels since the 1800s.

Some of the rain (sprinkles) actually turned to flurries.

Guess I won't worry about planting anything outside for awhile.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:19PM
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Minnie - I saw ND/SD/MN getting all that snow. Do you have any tunnels (high or low) at all?

We just got back from vacation (in case you're wondering where I've been). That's why I was concerned about potting up (didn't want to leave too many trays/pots for my dad to water) and hardening off. The stuff I repotted using Espoma looks great, the white Russian kale needs to be hardened off, paste tomatoes and Brandywines need to be potted up again. Going to give the other kale, broccoli, spinach a little longer - they weren't directly under lights and were in smaller cells so didn't grow as much (also looks like Dad let the red Russians get a little dry - lost a few), the peppers and tomatoes in original cells (2 per) with original starter mix haven't grown much at all so they need to be repotted in Espoma or Fafard (fertilizer) ASAP.

Dad told me it was still in the 40s-50 last week, with lows around freezing, but I just checked and it was mid 60's a couple of days - colder now (haven't seen 50 yet today) but mid-week ought to be more seasonable and I can get that kale out. Gotta check soil temp - might be too late to plant peas, should get started on potatoes. Vacation was nice, but now I've got to catch up!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:49PM
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